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DateLine Sunday, 6 April 2008





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

First woman choreographer in the movie industry:

Visha makes history

When she heard the drum beat of the Kandyan Getaberaya, an exhilarating feeling which used to emerge from top to toe pierced through her skin to the bone. Visha de Silva was wondering about the dramatical change that was taking place in her.

The 11-year-old could not hide her burning enthusiasm to dance. Her mother who could not tolerate her younger daughter’s craziness decided to find a good dancing class for her.

Visha de Silva

“Uncle Vajira Pelpita (former Minister) was a family friend of us. It was he who introduced me to the Chitrasena-Vajira Ranga Kalayathanaya. And it was the start! And since I was 11 I have been dancing,” smiles Visha.

After having 27 years of experience as a dancing teacher and having many hundreds of students both at Carey College and Musaeus College, Visha has decided to dedicate herself fully in her ‘Visha School of Dancing’ at Dehiwala, Ratmalana and Malabe which has celebrated its Silver Jubilee in January.

The celebration was held at the Lionel Wendt with the participation of more than 300 students of hers on March 8 and 9. Dance has been her first love.

“Enjoying the change along with many challenges,” says Visha who will soon mark history by being the first woman choreographer in the Sri Lankan film industry with Channa Perera’s newest film ‘Sanda Diya Salu’ which will start shooting shortly. “I’ll be choreographing two songs in it,” she says. “It’s a challenge. We’ll see how it’s going to be,” she determines.

Would it be a challenge to a person who handles 600 girls to perform the tea pluckers’ dance, the opening item at the inauguration of 10th SAF Games held in Colombo in August, 2006? “Yes, It was a tough job, and I was under a great pressure. But everything went on well. Thanks to my Musaues girls, teachers and parents who were with me throughout, giving me no trouble, but assistance and encouragement,” recollects Visha.

The annual Western Province Sports Colours Awards Ceremony annually gets colourful with the performances of Visha’s School of Dancing. The dazzling dancing sequences of Visha’s students are the most awarding item that the audience would wait to view.

Steps, beat and grooming which Visha has ‘inherited’ from her ‘Gurus’ Chitrasena and Vajira, the most reverend duo in the local dancing field was immense. The experience and exposure she gained to her life by being in the Chitrasena-Vajira dancing troupe while taking part in almost all the ballets of theirs including Karadiya, Nala-Damayanthi, Shivaranga and Kinkini Kolama was great and stupendous.

“I learnt from them not only my Kandyan dancing steps and ballet poses but also everything that affiliated to the performing arts, including choreography, costumes, lighting, stage decor and so on. I started teaching there when I was 16, and had travelled quite a lot with their troupe. I entered the University of Aesthetic Studies, Colombo (then affiliated to the Kelaniya University) when I was 17. Though I studied bio-science for A/L at Visakha Vidyalaya, my whole soul was with dancing,” she reminisces. Her first appointment was with Carey College in which she taught for 13 years, and then at Musaeus College for 14 years.

Visha is a teacher who has been adored by her students even after they quit dancing. She is the ‘mom’ of all of them. Her students who’ve gone abroad for higher studies have become shinning stars in every international cultural evening held at their universities. The Kandyan dancing performances of theirs have become the most elegant and enthralling item in them.

“Many youngsters used to come to me for crash courses imploring at least for one item as once they go abroad it is something from your authentic traditional roots that would be valued and appreciated. Dancing is a language of a nation, which carries its cultural heritage from generation to generation. So, we have an ample responsibility in conserving our traditional dance for our future,” explains Visha.

“Dancing is sort of a meditation as we have to control our mind with each step. There’s no age difference to learn any form of dancing. But, since exercises including limbs and body bending and stretching involve a lot in Kandyan dancing, it’s better if one can start at an early stage. My youngest students are about four to five years,” says Visha.

“We won’t just form a dancer, but a versatile character, as with dancing, a child learns to work as a team, and also neatness, discipline and moral values as well. Being obedient to his/her parents and teachers is one of the main characteristics merged with this. We worship our teachers and parents and get their blessings before we get on to the performing stage,” explains Visha.

Visha has been felicitated not in Sri Lanka, but in many countries as well. Her dancing troupe has taken part in many International Festivals in Denmark, Malaysia, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Maldives and Singapore. Out of all these she values the opportunities she has got with India.

“I have been offered to take over to choreograph the opening item with a performance of Kandyan dancing in their production at International Children’s Theatre Festival of Performing Arts in New Delhi organised by Ryan International Schools which will be held end of November.

Vindya de Silva is her only biological daughter who follows her mom’s footsteps. “She is a student in the Faculty of Performing Arts at the University of Kelaniya. Apart from that she studies Yoga and Kathak dancing as well. Vindy is a great treasure to me,” says Visha.

“Hemamali Basnayaka, my dancing teacher at Visakha Vidyalaya was the first inspiration in my life that drew me towards dancing. I’m also grateful to my husband Vipula de Silva for giving me all the assistance rendering great patience and tolerance as I have been a busy bee throughout. To me dancing is a sacred career. It’s my first love and my life,” she concludes.n

Pix: Thilak Perera


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Ceylinco Banyan Villas

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