RAD professionalism to benefit Lanka
The first time I met Ranmali Mirchandani (then Pathirana) was when
she came along with Richard de Zoysa and Steve de la Zilwa to be a part
of the weekly series 'Left Luggage' broadcast over SLBC. I was detailed
to cover the recording and production of one of the programs and I was
amazed at the creative talent they displayed behind the mike.
I was forewarned however that there may not be a formal script for
the half-hour program for me or for the recording engineer to follow and
if I'm lucky there could be a script for the first 15 minutes and the
rest of the dialogue left to the wit and repartee of the threesome
guided by Richard de Zoysa.
The themes were take offs on Sri Lankan society life and the result
was a hilarious, enjoyable recording for me and the recording engineer.
"It was a joyous time recording Left Luggage with Richard de Zoysa"
said Ranmali. "He used to create his script writing, on his motorbike
parked outside SLBC, while Steve and I, we hung around waiting for the
'go' signal. It was very clever, and for creative radio writing it was
Since then a lot of water has flowed under the bridge. Ranmali joined
the British Council as Arts Manager for a considerable length of time
and now in her new job she was appointed National Manager South Asia by
the Royal Academy of Dance UK, effective August 1, 2013.
Question: Working for RAD is a whole new world for you - you
are away from theatre and connected more to the ballet world. What
exactly are your functions in this new set up?
Answer: As part of my Arts Manager role at the British
Council, I handled the RAD exams in Sri Lanka for 22 years. On informing
the RAD of my decision to leave the British Council, and with the
approval of the British Council, they offered me the post of National
Manager South Asia and my functions are to oversee Sri Lanka, India,
Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Actively there are RAD teachers and examinations being held in Mumbai
and Colombo so far. So my main role is to liaise between the teachers in
our country - Mumbai, Colombo and the RAD headquarters in Central
Of the 7 RAD Registered Teachers in Sri Lanka, six are actively
teaching in Colombo. In November last year, 420 candidates did the RAD
exams with an Examiner flown in from Hong Kong.
RAD classes are held in Galle and will be expanding to Kandy later
this year. Meliza a young Sri Lankan dancer is currently enrolled on the
RAD's two-year Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies (CBIS) program
which if she completes successfully will give her the RAD Registered
It is only the Registered Teachers who are entitled to send in
candidates for the RAD exams which I arrange with a visiting examiner.
Q: What is the overall picture in Mumbai in connection with
the RAD examinations?
A: Mumbai has three schools run by three RAD Registered
Teachers, teaching at eight centres in Mumbai and teaching the RAD
syllabus to more than 1000 students.
There is one senior student currently enrolled on the CBIS program
and she will be Registered teacher by 2017.
Q: You have travelled a lot after you took over this job what
are your comments regarding the standard of professionalism and allied
A: I've been to Mumbai many times in the last one and a half
years. I conduct seminars to try to get current senior ballet students
to consider becoming teachers themselves/ It is not everybody who looks
for a career in ballet.
Ninety percent of the children do ballet because the parents would
like to see their young, especially girls involved in ballet. There are
boys also. In Colombo there are boys who are doing ballet exams and
More and more parents are convinced that ballet gives the children a
good grounding - discipline and posture. Also it is team work, because
most of the exams are done in groups of eight, four, three and twos.
Very rarely are examinations done individually. Individual exams are
only when you are 17 or 18 years but for the 5,6,7 and 8 year olds its
all done in colour coded groups.
Q: There has to be constant supervision throughout the year
how does the Royal Academy of Dance handle this effectively?
A: RAD is very meticulous about teachers all over the world
are continuing what they call "continuous professional development." The
teachers have X number of hours in attending courses run by the RAD. So
you can't go by your qualification of 30, 40 years continuous teaching
and sending students for examinations. Because the teachers are
monitored by the RAD, by the number of hours they put into a course.
It is very current and every year the teachers are assessed. That's
why it is different. To become a RAD teacher you have to be convinced
and committed and it requires a teacher to travel to the UK or to a
neighbouring country for assessment during the two year program. For
confirmation [email protected]
Q: Has drama taken a back seat in your life?
A: I do not take part in drama like I used to. In fact I took
part in two plays - 'The Waiting Room' directed by Adam and Equus 2
directed by Steve de la Zilwa. Theatre wise I see more of the Sinhala
theatre, because I think they are way ahead and they take a lot of
English theatre has the freedom but quality should never be
compromised. Unfortunately recently it has seen a lot of dips. I think
we have a generation that has missed out completely on learning from the
standard achieved from the 70s and 80s. So they think that what they are
putting out now is of a high standard. This should be overcome quickly.