Communicated via body language:
Whenever a tree dies, Vast empty space encroaches Death is yet
another word that inspires despair. Few of us therefore try to
choreograph our end performances according to a particular floor plan or
philosophy. We try usually to spend our lives understanding life but not
death. The truth is we don't try to understand death, or try to ascribe
reasonable meaning to it.
The evening Chithrasena's body was reduced to ashes in Borella
cemetery was a moment signifying the eccentricity and profundity of
This tiny sketch via a Blank paper of dead words inked provides what
my mind clasped from this particular episode.
The day the soul or thought left the body of Chithrasena, the dance
Guru the manner of his funeral ceremony (concurrent with his last wish)
was totally eccentric: information about his death was not to be given
to any electronic or print media before the cremation and his corporeal
mass had to be ash within 24 hours.
His family and his relatives therefore have fulfilled his last wish.
Still, by the time we (some friends and I) reached the pyre, it was too
late, with the body once well-recognizable, afire.
A friend, well known to Chithrasena whispered it was amazing that an
expressive man who approximated a Zorba-like zest for life had at last
more than costume-changed himself into an impressive signature. Yet if
you delve into the facade more deeply, you will understand that this
impression always lay beneath the mask of his chosen expression.
Chithrasena was both a human body and a philosopher, and thus no mere
body or mind in expressive motion. He flew beyond the horizons of all
national perimeters and revolved a modern dance approximate to our own
identity after 500 years of colonial stasis in Sri Lanka.
In other words, he was not a dancer who danced for a chosen enclave
of spectators from the ruling or the ruled.
Dance was his passion
His dance was the dance itself, and totally human. Not only a
curriculum choreography of motorized body movements, his dance became a
moving text of the body inscribing a vast vision of life - a life
matured through the extraordinary stances of his humanness.
Soon after 1977 the system of media in Sri Lanka was not conducive.
The steps taken then by Channa Wijewardene and Chithrasena may be mapped
totally different spheres of dance.
Channa and Chithrasena preferred to boogie down different paths in
Chithrasena, an artist, was alive to the international trends in
dance earlier than the 1977 traumas. He did not get bogged down in the
internationalism of the post-1977 period, and thus did not have to carry
the phoney cosmopolitanism.
At the same time, Channa was a dancer who came up through same
tradition of dance founded by Chithrasena in the pre'77 era (and one of
the earlier pupils of Chithrasena). Yet Channa is a pre-'77 persona of
dance who became a post-'77 wannabe in his chosen field of endeavour.
And it is, into a certain extent, a danger points towards the lack of
ideology. Yet Chithrasena was a man of human body. He was not fascinated
with its perils. For Chithrasena's life was a philosophy entirely
answerable to the body. He was a dancer who constructed an ideology
through his dance. And this was not a media-mill ideologue. His career
in dance was marked in the living of his life and consequently proven in
the choreography of his exit.