The past. That’s what the per­for­mance given by Natanda, Sri Lanka’s first ever con­tem­po­rary dance com­pany founded by Kapila Pal­i­hawadana made the au­di­ence feel. The cru­elty of slav­ery was felt and high­lighted by the four­teen high level pro­fes­sional dancers and they in­deed did not fail to give an ex­tra­or­di­nary per­for­mance mov­ing the au­di­ence along with them. All of this was pre­ceded by a won­der­ful speech given by the host of the night, Dr. Fran­cois Tessier and also the chore­og­ra­pher and founder of the Natanda Dance The­atre, Kapila Pal­i­hawadana who ap­prised the au­di­ence with the in­tent be­hind the in­ten­tion of the cre­ation of the event.

The event was held at the Bishop’s Col­lege Au­di­to­rium on the 19th of Septem­ber 2018. The show, held in the evening was bro­ken into two seg­ments. The first seg­ment of the evening, ti­tled “Slav­ery”, (Wa­hala) used dance to bring out the emo­tions felt by the peo­ple who were trapped and de­prived of ba­sic lib­er­ties that peo­ple nor­mally pos­sess, through the hor­rid mech­a­nism called slav­ery. The sec­ond seg­ment of the evening was en­ti­tled “Van­nam”, a recita­tion which mostly de­scribes be­hav­iours of an­i­mals. It is also a com­bi­na­tion of meld­ing drums, per­cus­sion, elec­tro beats, rock and clas­si­cal mu­sic with tra­di­tional sounds of cym­bal and chanted ver­sions, dur­ing which the mu­sic per­fectly com­pli­mented the recita­tion which was brought to life by the colour­ful move­ments of the dancers per­form­ing the pea­cock dance.

Not only were the dances vi­brant but the cos­tumes that were de­signed for each num­ber, them­selves helped bring out the themes of the per­for­mances but also pro­vided a vis­ual spec­ta­cle to the au­di­ence. Mu­sic not only com­pli­mented the vi­su­als pro­vided by the dances and the cos­tumes but also en­ticed the au­di­ence by build­ing an at­mos­phere in the room. The var­i­ous in­stru­ments and pieces blended to­gether with ev­ery­thing and el­e­vated the per­for­mances.

Mo­ments of si­lence from the mu­sic was re­placed by thud­ding of feet on the floor which not only com­pli­mented the sur­prise caused by the sud­den lack of mu­sic but also built up ten­sion among the au­di­ence.

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