The Privilege of privacy

Dying to escape the routine and have a dream holiday? Well we've got lots of great surprises in our travel competition where you can win exciting weekends at some of the country's best hotels and who knows even a trip abroad.

Just read the article here and answer the question given on the coupon before posting it to:

Times Travel Quiz 6
C/o The Sunday Times,
P.O. Box 1136, Colombo

The first two correct entries drawn win two free weekends (one night's stay) for two lucky couples at The Privilege.

Entries close on Wednesday August 7, 2002 and the winners' names will be published in The Sunday Times Travel page of August 11.

Employees of Wijeya Newspapers and The Privilege and their families are not eligible to take part in this quiz.

Imagine spending a few days completely isolated, with the cool western winds whipping your face and a cosy suite to lounge in; a dream, you sigh. For the conventional beach hotels on the coastline are anything but secluded. They are full of fun activities that one could indulge in but the one thing missing would be privacy.

But not anymore. Privacy is the one word that pops into mind when thinking of "The Privilege", an all suite beach hotel which was opened on World Tourism Day in October last year.

The setting is relaxed, tranquil and inviting, it's the ideal hide-out for an undisturbed holiday in comfort, style and elegance. Located down a little dirt road in Wadduwa, "The Privilege" is spread across two acres of land leading up to the beach.

The reception area is striking. Tall coconut trees guard the entrance and guide guests to their suites. There are no receptionists and cashiers smiling behind desks, but the 25 strong staff is always available and willing to indulge you.

25 luxurious suites are housed in two buildings side by side. The green expanse that separates them are full of boulders to sit on and reflect.

The suites are well fitted and consist of five units - sleeping, living, bathing, courtyard and balcony. Midnight blue tiles decorate the spacious bathrooms, that form the centrepoint of the suite. There are also three superior suites with jacuzzis.

The restaurant, situated on the first floor of the main building gives a spacious effect with large windows letting in the cool breeze. A German Grand Piano sits in a corner to provide light entertainment.

"The Privilege" is the brainchild of Susil de Alwis, a veteran hotelier and the sole owner. "I wanted to create a totally different atmosphere, where guests would simply come to rest and relax. Where you can be a VIP and still remain unhampered. The staff though small in number are hand-picked and have all specialized in the field. They'll be right beside you if and when you need them but are capable of fading into the background on any occasion," he explains.

Another interesting point that makes "The Privilege" an unconventional resort is the fact that there are no set mealtimes.

There are no long queues to stand in to get to the buffet tables. Whether you are an early bird or a late riser, guests have the option of enjoying their meals either in the suites, on the lawn, at the restaurant or even on the poolside.

For dinner there's a seven course continental set menu that guests can enjoy. The menus can be perused by the guests beforehand and can be altered to suit each guest's individual palate.

An a la carte menu is also available for those who require something completely different.

There is an in-house Ayurvedic Centre, well equipped and attended by fully qualified doctors and staff.

When guests arrive for treatment they are examined by the chief doctor who will determine their body type, listen to their wishes and ailments and then suggest a unique treatment plan.

So the next time you are on the look out for privacy and total relaxation in quiet surrounding and wonderful meals "The Privilege" might be just the spot for you!
- R.H.G. and T.K.

Fancy footwork
By Thiruni Kelegama
Dancing is an art by itself- and when you can dance the night away without any inhibitions, you have mastered it.

This is what Footwork hopes to do. They want to make one feel proud of the fact that you can 'dance'. And mind you, this is not dancing for the fun of it- it means being able to waltz, jive, and cha cha cha.... and it doesn't end there!

Ballroom and Latin American Dancing is popular the world over. The word 'ball' derives from the Latin word 'balare' meaning to "dance". These standard ballroom dances have diverse origins; rhythms, tempos, and aesthetics but one thing in common; they are all danced by a couple in 'closed hold' maintaining five areas of contact between the partners while performing all figures of the dance.

Ballroom and Latin American Dancing better known as Dancesport is becoming popular in Sri Lanka among young and the old alike. Within the past few years, the standards have risen to international levels.

In 1988, the first National Ballroom Championship was held with international judges. The first Sri Lankan professional and amateur couples were sent to the Singapore International Dancesport Championship that year and that was the beginning of a success story. Since then, Sri Lanka has gone places!

Footwork, an organization focused on entertainment produced its first Dancesport championship in 1996. It was a tremendous success. The West Australian Ten Dance Champions were invited to adjudicate and demonstrate at this championship

This year, Dancesport 2002, the eighth Footwork Dance Championship will be held on August 4 at the Colombo Hilton at 6.30 pm. Once again many young couples of Sri Lanka will take the 'floor!'

The contestants will be vying for their titles in the Ballroom and Latin American category. The five ballroom dances are the Modern Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, and Quickstep and the five Latin American dances are The Cha cha cha, Samba, Jive, Rumba and Paso Doble.

"The Waltz is a dance performed to music with three beats to the bar.

This means that if a step is taken on each beat, then each bar starts with the opposite foot to that of the previous bar. This can be a source of difficulty to the beginner but when mastered gives the dance a delightful romantic tilt," says Dharshan Wijesooriya, Footworks managing director who is producing the championship.

Dharshan Wijesooriya, is a well known Ballroom and Latin American dance instructor. He is the only Sri Lankan invited to adjudicate at International Dancesport Championships. He is also one of the founder members of the Asia Dancesport Council based in Hong Kong. He will be producing the first ever International Dancesport Championship to be held in Sri Lanka in March 2003 with the participation of 15 countries.

Commenting on the Dancesport Championship this year, he proudly added that for the first time in Footwork's history, six schools will be taking part along with participants from Singapore and Malaysia. The six local schools are Naomi Rajaratnam's School of Ballroom Dancing, El Latino, Dance World, Strict Tempo Dance School, Ravi De Abrew's Dance Centre and Prince Ratnam's School of Ballroom Dancing. There will also be participants representing Gateway International School.

The highlight of this year's Championship will be two scintillating exhibition performances by the demonstrators Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace , the 2002 UK Ten Dance Champions. The duo will perform ballroom dances in the first segment and the five Latin American dances in the latter part of the show.

Dancing away the late twenties and thirties
By Alfreda de Silva
"................ Foot it featly here and there, And sweet sprites the burthen bear......... from The Tempest - Shakespeare

Those were dancing days, full of the freedom and enjoyment of learning, for us children in the late twenties and thirties, at a special place called Girton School, Nugegoda.

Girton's Founder-Principal was Constance Blacker, an extraordinary woman, who in September 1929, when I was nine years old, introduced dancing, drama, music and elocution to her school, already running on an innovative course.

The word 'elocution' incidentally, has now been appropriately changed to speech because under its rigid sway young learners tended to 'elocute'.

Girton School's first dancing teacher was a British beauty called Margot Evans. She worked with a cast of about 50 children aged between eight and fourteen to produce a stunning production of Alice in Wonderland. A full-length drama of words, music, dancing and song, it went on the boards of the Regal Theatre for a week to packed houses of students from the schools of Colombo, and adults.

I remember the pretty and precocious ten-year-old Doreen Claessen as a charming Alice; Norma Raffel was a hilarious Mad Hatter and me a half-witted March Hare trying together to push a drowsing Dormouse, head-first, into a teapot.

Memorable vignettes came from Dorothy Ohlmus as the White Rabbit; Rohini Samarasekera the Duchess; Vyvette Ohlmus and Eileen Melder as the King and Queen of Hearts, Resta Senaratne as the Dodo, Maureen Ohlmus as a weeping Mock Turtle and young Siri de Silva narrating the tale of a mouse to a large group of birds and animals. Margot Evans had a flair for picking dancers. Girls who had never been on stage before, danced as snails, whitings and lobsters as if they were professionals. The costumes were gorgeous.

A moving and exotic production of Hiawatha followed the next year to appreciative audiences at the Regal Theatre, before it was time for Miss Evans to return to England. First Effie Taylor and then Mrs. R.A. Spencer-Sheppard were our unforgettable singing teachers.

Miss Evans' place was taken by the equally dynamic, gracious and exceedingly kind dancer-teacher, Marjorie Sample, also British.

Supple as a reed and a superb teacher, she is remembered to this day by the hundreds of students for whom she interpreted the beauty, potential and communicative strength of ballet and other dance forums.

Marjorie Sample whose husband, Mr. Atkinson was a planter here, made Ceylon her home for a number of years, and taught both children and adults of both sexes.

Some of her students, like Timmy Ingleton and Shelagh Mack became teachers themselves under Miss Sample's teaching. Timmy's son Michael, also a student of Miss Sample, was later accepted and danced for some time with the Royal Ballet in London.

However the winner whom Miss Sample picked at the time was an infant prodigy - an expressive-eyed attractive slip of a girl who went on the Regal Theatre stage with poise and grace at the age of three. Her name was Oosha de Livera.

At five and seven she returned to this venue as the Prima Ballerina, with a Corps de Ballet of young adults. She went on dancing. On one occasion she did seven dances in a single night at Royal College. She never stopped dancing.

Now Oosha Saravana-mutthu, this vivacious personality, is still lithe and teaches her students with the dedication she has always shown to her vocation. She is full of energy as she "foots it featly" with her charges, her choreography fresh and exciting in her productions at the Lionel Wendt.

The Girton girls were indeed fortunate in their exposure to the art scene of the day at a tender age. Many were the theatricals to which Mrs Blacker and Miss Sample in those early days took them not only at the Regal Theatre but at Royal College, St. Peter's College, the Women's International Club, the Town Hall and other venues. It was no wonder that an obsession with theatre became our legacy from Girton for the rest of our lives.

Other young dancers who trained under Miss Sample and did very well come to mind; among them Shantha (David) Chitty; Charmaine (Vanderhoen) Mendis; Janine (Jayatilleke) Loos; Mina Spittel and Yvonne Soertsz.

Our dancing days at Girton were magical. Often but not always, the dancing was part of the theatre we presented at the Regal annually like the pantomime Dick Whittington, Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, Hansel and Gretel, Robin Hood , Pinochchio and many others. Miss Sample started us off on the sensitive and ethereal Post Office by Rabindranath Tagore.

Her classes were full of energy. We teenagers used to stay after school on our own to experiment with tap dances to the rhythm of words without music.

There were these lines, for instance, from the opening chorus of Dick Whittington just after the overture, jauntily played by Sonny Bartholomeusz. They lent themselves to this sort of dance improvisation. The words probably came from a music-hall:

"Life's a merry-go-round about,
Round about Regent street,
When they can go places
And do things,
Where there are show-cases
Where they show the new thing,
Everybody goes there at night
When they're wanting a treat,
On life's a merry-go-round - about
Round about Regent Street".

The Shirley Temple number On the Good Ship Lolipop, which was all the rage at the time, was one of many other nonsense rhymes for our version of tap-dancing to words.

A never-to-be forgotten and historic event at Girton was a Marjorie Sample inspired Festival of Country Dancing in a large garden facing the school. Twelve groups of girls in sets of eight danced such country favourites as Sellenger's Round, Black Nag, Gathering Peascods, Country Gardens, If All The World Were Paper and many more while a two-some of jolly violinists fiddled away the tunes, swaying this way and that.

The girls wore checked cotton dresses and scarves and those who played the parts of boys were dressed in colourful smocks.

It was a successful fund-raiser for the school and a tribute to two fantastic personalities - Constance Blacker and Marjorie Sample.

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