Dreams of Apsara
It had always been a dream for Johannes Madawela to launch his own
dancing troupe. In today's context in the cultural scene there are many
dancing groups vying with one another to grab the spotlight. And
professionally most of the up and coming groups have to a certain extent
Now that moment for excellence has come for Johannes Madawela and J
Dancers. The troupe will be launched in a fascinating show titled
'Dreams of Apsara' at the Russian Cultural Centre on February 11 at 4
Question: In our conversation earlier you mentioned that you
have been dancing for about 10 years. Does it mean that you had formal
study under recognised teachers.
Answer: Yes, I did. My teacher in the later stages was
Chandana Wickremasinghe. But prior to that, I started very early in my
life. At preschool I studied under my teachers Nilmini Dharmasena, Ajith,
Mala and Mercy.
When I was at Kingswood College, I learnt the intracies of Kandyan
dancing from Shantha Tennakoon and Upuli Samayawardana and was selected
as the up and coming Kandyan dancer in 1997 and a Presidential award
winner at the Kandy Perahera.
Not only was I a member of the Kingswood College dancing and drama
teams, I was also involved in athletics and belonged to the Kingswood
Q: At what point in your school career did you study under
A: It was only after I sat for my Advanced Level examination
where I offered English Literature, French Language and Greek and Roman
Civilisation that I joined Chandana Wickremasinghe's Dance Academy as a
full time dancer.
I trained myself to be a professional dancer and it was hard work. In
fact you had be committed if you want to go places. I was committed
because not only did I get the opportunity to perform on our stages but
also on international stages in Asia, South East Asia, Middle East and
European countries too. I was the main peacock dancer in my guru's
ballet Mayura Sandeshaya - the peacock messenger.
The tours were interesting. They were mind opening experiences and I
learnt a lot in the presentation of dances on stage. In fact the
costumes and head dresses' for 'Dreams of Apsara' are all my creations
and for the future presentations I have a bank of ideas to create more
Q: What was the reason for launching J Dancers now instead of
earlier, since you had gained experience working with Chandana
A: I worked for 10 years with Chandara Wickramasinghe as a
full-time dancer and I left for Singapore for higher studies in
Management Diploma (UK). The pull of the dance vibes made me perform for
the High Commission for Sri Lanka and the many Singaporean cultural
events with my Singaporean team members. I worked part time with an
Entertainment company in Singapore.
Q: J Dancers comprise many dancers no doubt and with the
blessings of your mother Ruby Madawela and family and ofcourse Chandana
Wickramasinghe, your creation Dreams of Apsara will see you on the
launch pad of a new career, what is the theme of this show?
A: I don't have a specific theme or story line. It's more like
excerpts of dancing in two acts. The first act will see the J Dancers
displaying their prowess and creativity to fusion and modern music. The
fusion music is a mix of Indian and Thai. I was influenced in the music
when I toured with Chandana and also when I was in Singapore, I learnt a
lot about their culture.
My dancers are Nimesh, Tohaj, Anuradha, Rajitha, Suresh, Ravindra and
my sister Ruth. The second act of my show is entitled Entertainment and
I don't wish to give out details. I'd like if dance and music lovers are
with me to see for themselves what I have to offer.