Ballet: In search of excellence
Dancing does not come easy to each and everyone unless a youngster is
ready, willing to dedicate her life for this fine art along with sheer
determination that will enable her to reach the top. A success story
rests on years of dancing.
The staff at Deanna School of Dancing
who are preparing 300 students for the examinations
conducted by the Royal Academy of Dance, London. From left
to right: Roshalie Fernando, Natasha Jayasuriya, Mrs. Deanna
Jayasuriya, Principal-DSD, Natalie Atilla, Ayumi Ratnakumara
and Shonaka Ranatunge.
Ballet does not stop there; it has a common syllabus to study and
dance each and every step and movement classified there. Whether in Sri
Lanka or elsewhere around the world, every dance school will prepare its
students in line with this syllabus for the examinations held by the
Royal Academy of Dance in London.
One cannot overemphasize the importance of sound training from the
earliest years because it is during this time that a dancer acquires the
important basis for sound training. A simple mistake repeated many times
can become a major problem in the years ahead and can ruin the dancer of
her rewarding career in ballet. This is where the observant teacher
steps in and helps her overcome the hazard before it is too late. This
is a clear picture of hard work a ballet student must realise and work
towards its and to achieve her goal. There is no rest in between. The
tempo must be maintained, her spirit held high with a combination of
musicality and strength. Thus, she will perform a spectacular step with
apparent ease and help realise the dream of her choreographer.
Sounds fantastic and it is possible.
The establishment of ballet took place in France although the very
first steps were introduced in Italy. From the time France introduced
ballet, all have to be aware of French terms that describe various
positions, steps, movements as well as instructions. Thus, French became
the universal language of ballet.
I do not wish to give students any ideas of the world of ballet
beyond the classroom. The best source is the teacher who will from time
to time prepare the students for the examinations conducted by the Royal
Academy of Dance. They are an essential part of a future ballerina. What
the teacher can do is to warn the students about common faults, and
explain that little more about individual steps and to give the students
good reasons why they do certain steps in certain ways day after day.
Every little step has a firm place in the whole plan and once the
students knows about that place, the whole picture will become clearer
to the student.
These are the basics that lead a young ballerina from preliminaries
to higher levels and from there, to professionalism. The teacher is
there all the way, guiding, advising and pushing her along the right
track which brings us back to such a dedicated teacher with decades of
experience, with a name synonymous with ballet, Deanna Jayasuriya,
teacher, dancer, choreographer and Principal of the Deanna School of
A class in progress
with Ayumi Ratnakumara and Roshalie Fernando.
As she prepares her students as many as over 300 of them towards the
RAD examinations at different levels, she is ably supported by a
professional team headed by a product from her own school, i e. Ayumi
Ratnakumara who prepares some of the students and is an enthusiastic
teacher who is determined to get excellent results. Ayumi joined Deanna
School of Dancing when she was only two plus and completed her lessons
at 18 when she left DSD. She read for a degree in classical ballet at
the Royal Academy of Dance in London. Today, she is a qualified ballet
teacher and the only Sri Lankan to have obtained the LRAD and ARAD
besides obtaining her BA (Hons).
Ayumi is teaching in the UK presently but was able to find time for
her roots and took wings to help out her school as well as her beloved
The girls are on their toes, at the barre and moving about with
confidence to face the examinations scheduled in a couple of weeks time
when the examiner from the Royal Academy of dance arrives.
In the meantime, the senior staff of the DSD are kept busy to achieve
excellence. They are young Roshali Fernando (teacher), Natasha
Jayasuriya (dancer, choreographer, teacher), Deanna Jayasuriya
(Principal-DSD, dancer, teacher, choreographer), Natalie Atilla (dancer,
teacher, choreographer), Ayumi Ratnakumara (dancer, teacher) and Shonaka
Ranatunage (principal, dancer-DSD, teacher).