Moving moments in motion
Kala Korner by Dee Cee
Dream and reality
Colombo Chetties: Who's who and who did what
Learning words with click of the mouse
Moving moments in motion
By Chris Tribble
Candoco are a contemporary dance company. They've been in business for
over ten years (under the direction of their founder Celeste Dandeker)
and have established a growing reputation for daring, intelligent and very
physical productions. And, oh yes, and by the way, some of the members
of the ensemble have a leg missing or suffered a spinal injury a few years
This by-the-wayness is one of the first things that strikes an audience.
These are not disabled dancers. They are people who bring contrasting individual
resources to a theatrical space and who dance, as we all do, through processes
of co-operation and celebration of those contrasts. I'm six foot two. My
wife's about five four - but we get along. I may not be the best paso doble
dancer in the world, but when push comes to shove (as it often seems to
when I take to the floor) she manages to deal with my oversized and unco-ordinated
form, and we have a lot of fun. Candoco do it a lot better than I will
ever do - but the same principle applies. They are dancers. They have bodies
and heads and they create patterns - patterned movement, and patterned
juxtapositions - which please, or shock, or give us pause for thought.
The audience at Bishop's College Auditorium - especially in the first
half of the show, had plenty of opportunities for reflection. Javier de
Frutos' piece I hastened through my death scene to catch your last act
may be one of the most challenging pieces of modern dance to have been
seen in Sri Lanka in the past five years.
Through a blend of ensemble and solo pieces (set to a mainly electronic
soundscape, along with two songs from the soundtrack of the Broadway musical
Peter Pan) Candoco stretched our understanding of what constitutes dance.
The piece is sometimes aggressive, often very sexy, but above all, it reminds
us of how our bodies are fitted together, how we are articulated. Interesting
how a word to do with the way bones are joined up also applies to our capacity
to make meaning, to be articulate.
The final piece justified the work we had to do in coming to terms with
the piece. A female dancer stands centre stage. Using arms, upper body,
head and hair - but not moving her feet once (Is this dance? Yes it is!)
- she held us in a moment in which we came to a better understanding how
we fit together, how a shoulder blade, collar bone, hip, spine, elbow can
become articulate, how we manage to get along with other people.
After the shock of this first half, the audience stayed - apparently
the company is used to losing a few of the fainter hearts after the interval
drinks! And we got our reward. The second set - Sunbyrne, choreographed
by Doug Elkins - is based on the music of David Byrne (remember Talking
Heads?) and the Beach Boys (every body remembers them...) and gave us a
feel-good counterweight to the opening set. Not that it was anodyne.
Using floor work which may have been a new experience for some members
of the audience, high energy ensemble work, and witty solo/duet pieces,
Candoco refused to let us be limited by what we imagined dance (or dancers)
might be, and showed how human beings can create intensely moving moments
with the simplest of resources - and some of the blandest songs ever written
(I'm not a big Beach Boys fan!). None of us will forget the tenderness
of the "In my room" duet between Suzanne Cowan and Andrew McLay - all carried
out on the floor, and at the end of the evening, we were all pleased to
give one of the most enthusiastic rounds of applause that I have heard
in Bishops' College.
The Sunera Foundation, the UK Government's Department for International
Development, and the British Council should be congratulated for bringing
Candoco to Sri Lanka. Not only have they offered us a unique theatrical
experience, but we can also look forward to future productions by the Butterflies
Theatre Group in which we expect to see the results of the cross fertilisation
that will have arisen from workshops Candoco have carried out while in
Kala Korner by Dee Cee
Sybil among world's best book illustrators
Renowned author and illustrator of children's books, Sybil Wettasinghe
has joined an elite band of book illustrators. She is among 60 of the world's
best book illustrators selected by members of book clubs in a survey conducted
in Japan. This is not the first time that Sybil has been recognised in
the world of books. She has won many awards for art and literature, both
here and abroad.
The news comes in the wake of the release of her latest creation 'Crystal
and Clay' , the English version of 'Meti Gedera Lamai', the popular story
originally written in Sinhala which won the State Literary Award for Juvenile
Readers in 1992.
Sybil is a fine story-teller loved by children. The refreshing rural
background in her stories are her own experiences and recollections during
her childhood. She grew up in Gintota in the southern coast of Sri Lanka.
Her creations have amused and entertained children for over five decades
and she has over a hundred books to her credit. Some of her books have
been translated into several languages.
Sybil's easy style of writing, naturally makes her books popular not
only among children but among book lovers of all ages. 'Crystal and Clay'
is no different. As the much respected filmmaker Lester James Peries says
in an introduction to the book, the writer has entered fully into the universe
of children in writing the story. He also sees a special quality in Sybil's
writing for children - the avoidance of violence and horrors. "In her work
there is serenity, a tranquility which one hesitates to refer to as being
influenced by a pervading Buddhist ethos but one does discover over and
over in her stories the traditional pieties of rural life."
He recommends the story to children and adults alike "assuming there
is a child in all of us unless we have grown up into mechanical robots
in an increasingly hostile and inhuman world."