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Chitrasena

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.


Maestro Chitrasena

The evening Chithrasena's body was reduced to ashes in Borella cemetery was a moment signifying the eccentricity and profundity of death.

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.

Why?

Channa and Chithrasena preferred to boogie down different paths in dance.

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.

 

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