Dance to connect
International Competition of Choreography Plan for Asian Dance
Productions team. Ravibandhu Vidyapathy is also in the picture
The dim lights gradually invaded the stage along with the tranquil
music banishing dark corners and silence. The beat blend together into a
fusion of tunes and the sound created
by rhythmic footsteps that strike
against the floor sets off a mysterious passion to the lifeblood of
It was not merely tunes and moves belonging to one particular group
but a combination of music and dance forms from all parts of the globe.
The dancers passionately perform the moves, moving from one item to the
other with ease. It is more than just a performance. It is an exchange
of dance techniques, cultures and traditions.
Malith Upendra of nATANDA dance troupe has achieved the rare feat of
being the only Sri Lankan to take part in the 14th Seoul International
Dance Festival (SIDance 2011) that was held in South Korea. Conducted by
the Korean local International Dance Council CID-UNESCO, the event was
held at Sogang University's Mary Hall, Seoul Arts Center's Jayu Theater
and Hoam Art Hall and many other venues in the city from September 29 to
A six month Cultural Partnership Initiative (CPI) programme sponsored
by the Cultural, Sports and Tourism ministries of South Korea was held
to bring Asia and Africa's most distinctive dancing techniques on one
stage prior to the 18-day grand finale.
"Around 100 participants from Asian countries and Africa took part in
the CPI programme. We were under the Asia-Africa dance exchange 2011
category for the festival. We were paired in threes to present dance
items for the show. My partners were from Ghana and China," Upendra
Around 52 dance companies from Korea and 16 other countries from
around the world presented 51 works at SIDance 2011. Korea, China, the
United States, Germany, Italy and France have been regular participants
at the festival but SIDance 2011 introduced troupes from Lebanon, Sri
Lanka and Ghana. The Post Ego Dance Company, a contemporary dance
company in Korea, also worked with them.
A number of workshops and performances related to dance, choreography
and emerging styles were also held to maintain the energetic and festive
Malith and his dance partner from Ghana performing a Kandyan
dance item at SIDance 2011
Young dancers in their mid and late 20s represent new creations based
on new cultural experience. Living in Seoul for six months, these
dancers embody diverse experiences which they integrate with their
choreographic knowledge with the information gleaned by taking part in
traditional Korean dance workshops, contemporary dance workshops,
inter-movement workshops, choreography workshops and many more
SIDance 2011 is the final test where they get to show their progress
by staging new creations influenced by their diverse cultural
traditions, contemporary dance techniques and new energy infused by the
cultural clash. Upendra and his mates did research on Korean myth and
came upon the legend of the bear woman. This was the theme of their
dance item which was titled 'Ode to Ungnyeo.'
"Koreans believe that they originated from a female bear. We based
the choreography on that story. We question why living things wanted to
transform from animals to humans. They undergo happiness, suffering
become restless at the end and wish to become animals again to lead a
simple life," he elaborated the concept.
Malith in an African contemporary dance move
Queried on what he learned from his partner's dance techniques the 27
year-old said that the dance movements of Ghana include a lot of dynamic
"I learnt Afro Contemporary dance forms from my partner form Ghana.
They have a variety of traditional dance elements. You incorporate
contemporary techniques into these forms. It goes mainly with the drum
beats. It makes a nice combination," he opined.
He notes that their Chinese partner was more into dance theatre.
Though based in China she had been influenced by European dance
"I taught them how to merge Kandyan dance elements and Angampora into
contemporary dance movements," he said adding that both the other
dancers found the act so enthralling that they decided to have the piece
at the beginning of the 40-minute 'Ode to Ungnyeo'.
"We selected out own costumes which is similar to our day to day wear
but the dance starts off with us in less clothes," Upendra recalled.
Upendra is also the principal dancer of Kapila Palihawadana's
renowned nATANDA Dance Theatre. The troupe had performed in many foreign
countries and had won audience applause.
"The Koren Ministry asked us to apply for the International
Competition of Choreography Plan for Asian Dance Productions. nATANDA
got selected for their 'Ravens' performance out of 16 countries and 65
choreographies. It was among the five finalists. This is a rare
achievement. In future I will be taking part in their programmes of
exchanging dance. They have scheduled a main dance production for 2014,"