Organization - Chitrasena Vajira Dance Foundation

Chitrasena Vajira Dance Foundation
Basic Information
English Chitrasena Vajira Dance Foundation
Local language Sinhala
Country Sri Lanka
Category Government approved charity
Domain Performing Arts
Social Practices, Rituals and Festive Events
Function Promotion
Established year 1982
Objectives

The Chitrasena Vajira Dance Foundation was set up with a vision to “inspire and exhilarate through the traditional dances and drums of Sri Lanka” through the work of the Chitrasena Kalayathanaya (Chitrasena School of Dance) and the Chitrasena Dance Company.

Objectives

  • Preserve our rich array of traditional dance forms and the knowledge of traditional gurus.
  • Innovate both within and beyond the creative space of our traditional dance forms.
  • Foster creativity and collaborations by providing a space for artistes to meet and work.
  • Develop new talent by identifying promising dancers and teachers and enabling them to achieve their fullest potential
  • Professionalize traditional dance by making a career path in dance viable and sustainable.
  • Refine our methods of teaching and training to meet the requirements of a rigorous dance form, without sacrificing our traditions.
Introduction

The Chitrasena Vajira Dance Foundation is a government-approved charity established in 1982 and registered under the Companies Act. The Foundation governs the Chitrasena Kalayathanaya (Chitrasena School of Dance) and the Chitrasena Dance Company.

Chitrasena Dance Company: Founded in 1943, and nurtured under the creative genius of Sri Lanka’s iconic dancing duo Gurus Chitrasena and Vajira, the Chitrasena Dance Company introduced ‘Traditional Dance’ as an authentic Sri Lankan dance form to national and international audiences. Gurus Chitrasena and Vajira are credited for rescuing this dying art-form by reviving and refining elements of ancient village rituals and presenting them on the stage to contemporary audiences. The Chitrasena Dance Company became their vehicle of expression both in traditional dance forms and contemporary dance, which set the standards and transformed dance theatre in Sri Lanka. Today the Dance Company continues to create compelling dance theatre for contemporary audiences by innovating from within our dance traditions.]

Chitrasena Kalayathanaya (School of Dance): Chitrasena Kalayathanaya is Sri Lanka’s oldest and most prestigious school of traditional dance, renown for introducing the first syllabus and structured training program for traditional dancers in Sri Lanka. Founded in 1944, the Kalayathanaya was the pioneering school that began a professional training in traditional dances and drums of Sri Lanka for the modern stage. The Kalayathanaya serves the more serious dancers dedicated to refining their technique to become disciplined performing artistes and true dance ambassadors for Sri Lanka, while also training over 300 students every year in traditional dancing and drumming based on a rigorous dance syllabus developed by Gurus Chitrasena and Vajira. Since its inception, the school has provided the

opportunity for generations of aspiring dancers around the country to establish themselves as professional dancers, drummers and choreographers and represent Sri Lanka as cultural ambassadors across the globe.

Over the last 75 years, the Chitrasena Dance Company and Kalayathanaya have given life to compelling performances ranging from rich and deep repertoire of dance and drumming items, to acclaimed ballets and productions inspired by ancient rituals and contemporary culture.

The legacy of maestro Chitrasena has been endowed to the fourth generation of the Chitrasena family led by Heshma, Umadanthi and Thaji, under the guidance and encouragement of the veteran dancers of the family: Vajira, Upeka and Anjalika. The current generation of the family has embarked on an ambitious journey to push the boundaries of the Dance Company and the Kalayathanaya even further, to transform Sri Lankan traditional dance into a universally recognizable rigorous and professional art-form by: preserving traditions and innovating from them; discovering and sustaining new talent; and fostering creativity and artistic excellence.

Major Activities

Performing Arts Production: Throughout the last seven decades, the Chitrasena Dance Company and Kalayathanaya have given life to compelling performances ranging from rich and deep repertoire of dance and drumming items, to acclaimed ballets and productions inspired by ancient rituals and contemporary culture. Amongst its groundbreaking productions are Nala Damayanthi(1949), Karadiya (1961), Nrithanjali(1965), Kinkini Kolama (1978), Shiva Ranga (1984), Chandalika(1996), Bera Handa (2001) and more recently Barefeet in Motion (2003), The Art of Chitrasena (2006), Kumbi Kathawa (2007), Dancing for the Gods (2010), Saṃhära (2012), a production by the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble of Bangalore in collaboration with the Chitrasena Dance Company, and Devánjali: Ritual_Rites_Reflection (Dancing for the Gods II) (2014)—the latter which had its international premier at the prestigious Sydney Festival in Australia in January 2015.

Performing Arts Performance and Promotion: The Chitrasena Dance Company has done 50+ tours to 26 countries. The tours included East and West Europe, the United States, Great Britain, the former USSR, Canada, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh and the Middle East. The extensive repertoire of the Company has received rave reviews from local and international critics alike.

Teaching and Education: The Kalayathanaya (School of Dance) has schooled students in a rigorous dance syllabus developed by Gurus Chitrasena and Vajira and the Kalayathanaya continues to preserve this syllabus while incorporating modern theatre craft techniques. The following are some of its principal activities:

  • Teaching authentic Sri Lankan dance forms
  • Teaching traditional drumming
  • Staging of traditional dance rituals in their ritualistic setting
  • Staging of contemporary works based on traditional techniques
  • Organizing workshops
  • Organizing overseas exchange programmes

Creating a self-sustaining eco-sytem for dance in Sri Lanka: In 2014 the Chitrasena Vajira Dance Foundation launched an ‘Endowment Fund’ to generate resources to fund the establishment of a fully-equipped Centre for Dance in Sri Lanka—to provide a dedicated space for dancers to live, collaborate, nurture their talent, and commit to the art form—and activities that will ensure sustainability of the efforts of the Dance Company and the Kalayathanaya. To date, these activities have included establishing individual and group scholarship programs, to enable exceptional dancers from across the country to train for a career in dance regardless of financial circumstances, supporting our aim of creating a self sustaining eco-system for the dance.

Contact Information (Organization)
Website
Address 590, Elvitigala Mawatha, Colombo 5
Tel +94 (0)113150570/ +94(0)112368902
Fax
E-mail cvdance@gmail.com

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