Colourful motion

By Ruhanie Perera
The stage was a perpetual fusion of colour. Yards and yards of blue, green, yellow and red fabric in their more exotic tones of turquoise, ochre, crimson and the like were draped across the stage, sometimes flowing, sometimes static, sometimes infused with life, at all times deftly controlled by the dancers who both allowed themselves to be commanded by the accompaniment and conversely challenged the accompaniment to keep up with them. Thus the story of the life of fabric was unfolded for the audience.

'Barefeet in Motion', held at the Gallery 706 on March 14, was a clear collaboration between the two worlds of fabric and dance; the movement of fabric represented through the movement of life. Organized in support of the rebuilding of the Chitrasena Kalayathanaya, this 'festival of fabric', depicting the life of fabric from the yarn dying process to the cloth weaving process to the development of clothes was an off-the-beat fashion show, dance recital and creative feat all at the same time.

According to Heshma (granddaughter of doyen of dance Chitrasena) who conceived and directed the show, the concept evolved from a documentary she watched on the 'Barefoot' weaving centre. Enchanted by the process she saw, especially the striking visual of bare feet on bright pink dye and the rhythm pattern of the loom, Heshma knew she had her concept. Although the original idea had been to organize a fashion show, she wanted something more: "I wanted the event to be more than the conventional modelling show, I wanted to have something that would depict the life of Barefoot - and you find life in their fabric."

Opening the performance was a 'prologue' where the audience was treated to some deft footwork behind a black cloth strung across the stage. In as much as this scene worked to enhance the theme 'Barefeet in Motion', within the rhythm of the feet began the fabric-making process, the bare feet representative of people going to work. Brisk, catchy rhythms that resonated through the blackout heightened the buzz. This was interspersed with moments during which the feet made contact, meaning only one thing - there was a news swapping session in progress. This 'prologue' tied up beautifully with the 'epilogue' which saw the dancers once again behind the black cloth bringing the activity a full circle. This time, however, the feet had on ornaments, unlike in the 'prologue' - and this was symbolic of the gradual evolution that had been presented from yarn to finished work; it was the whole show in a nutshell.

The performance covered the main aspects of the fabric making process capturing not just innovatively conceptualized movement, but also the spirit of such an exercise, evolving into the final phase, which saw the finished products grace the stage in the form of cameo characters. The characters covered the whole gambit of 'everyday people' ranging from soothsayers to monkey dancers, a fishmonger to a puppeteer, from a snake charmer to the girls in the temple to the village women. These characters were the 'models' and they made the stage their 'catwalk', owning it as they came to life from a 'freeze'. In addition to being clad in clothes from 'Barefoot', the soothsayers carried the trademark sling bags, while the fishmonger displayed his vibrant coloured fish and bright orange prawns and there was a fabric snake coiled up in the rattan box the snake charmer carried around with him.

The characters first came in distinct groups or as individual characters and then made their entrances in two or three groups. Once they met on stage they became one. Increasing speed, they moved as one group in a circular movement blending into each other until the visual was just one blur of colour. This was a contrast from the stark colours of black and white that opened the show. With the girls splashing each other with brightly coloured dye during the representation of the dying process, there began a gradual infusion of colour into scenes, leading up to the end, which climaxed with everyone intoxicated with colour and fabric.

If 'innovation' was the key word for the first half of the performance, then 'tradition' best describes the second half. Here the troupe opted to perform a dance sequence called a theiya, which is a sequence part of any syllabus or dance routine. "It's part of our routine and we go through it even when we take class," says Heshma. "It's a form that gradually speeds up and ends in a climax. Each dancer who makes up the group gets a turn at taking the lead." However for want of time this performance had only one leader and that was, fittingly, Upeka.

Heshma, who in addition to having "eaten, drunk, breathed and lived Kandyan dance since the age of six," and has also studied modern dance methods, more specifically the Martha Graham Technique at Berkeley together with theatre crafts, says that in choreographing the show she has borrowed from the disciplines she studied. Says Heshma, "When I create, my approach will always be an extension of what I have been trained in, which is Kandyan dancing. What you see is my version of what my body has been trained in and the extent I can push it to in terms of movement."

Though 'trend' holds an allure for her, for Heshma, this can only spring from a rich tradition. "We exist today because of my grandfather. My grandmother followed his lead, as did my aunt and mother. I will do the same - continue in the tradition he has given us."

Rockers of yesteryear return to perform for peace

In the Seventies the 'Whall Gang' were Colombo's rock' n' roll outlaws. Their wild hair, 'hippie' clothes and loud, fiery music provoked alarm, amusement and outrage.

Many Gang members were expert musicians. Prasanna Abeysekera and Cancer, Coffin Nail, Gabo and the Breakways, Gobbledegook and Sweetie Pie, Imtiaz Hamid, Kumar Navaratnam and Friends, Raj Seneviratne and the Unwanted Generation were pioneers who introduced local audiences to heavy blues, 'acid' rock, folk-rock, jazz-rock and punk.

A multi-ethnic, multicultural group, the Whall Gang was full of the ideals of the Woodstock Generation: peace and love, an end to victimization and discrimination.

Back then they were rebels: today, they are successful men and women with families and careers. Many emigrated during the troubled Eighties and Nineties, finding success in the USA, Europe and elsewhere. From their domiciles abroad, they did what they could to support peace and development at home. Now, with the peace process gathering momentum, the Gang is reuniting in Colombo to hold a major rock festival to promote peace.

Peace Rocks will take place on Saturday, March 29, at the Vihara Maha Devi Park. Because of the limited capacity of the venue, entry will be by passes.

In keeping with the ideals of Woodstock, Peace Rocks will be a FREE festival. Costs are being borne by the Gang and a few generous commercial sponsors.

The line-up for the festival will include such Whall Gang legends as Cancer, Imtiaz Hamid, and Unwanted Generation, as well as some of the best contemporary Sri Lankan rock bands.

While the festival is primarily intended as a goodwill effort, audience members will be encouraged to make donations to selected charities involved in the peace effort. These charities will be represented at the venue.

The Whall Gang believes that rock music is a powerful force that can unite people from all communities and walks of life. Peace Rocks will allow people to make a statement in support of peace just by being there. It hopes to promote peace, rehabilitation and communal fraternity through the electrifying good vibrations of the twentieth century's most popular and persuasive musical form.

Those truly professional manners

By Nedra Wickremesinghe
The formal organization called the office is a place where expertise and skills are traded, the main objective being to conduct business. Therefore, it is necessary to create a good working environment, which will enhance productivity and performance. This is only possible through a positive mindset and where relationships at work are harmonious.

In this context, it is imperative that everyone in an organization behaves in a truly professional manner. Rule number one is respect.

Everybody is important, and everyone from the Chairman to the peon and service staff must be treated with the same regard and respect.

When there is a job opening, you need to put together an impressive C.V. to apply for the job. As a prospective candidate you may get past the first two rounds of the interview. But to succeed at the interview and get that job depends on how you perform at the interview; how you present yourself; your attire, and social skills.

Having secured the job, to start off on the right foot is as important as making a good first impression. An office is a melting pot of personalities and working under pressure, keeping to deadlines may trigger off temper tantrums and friction among colleagues.

But bad behaviour is unpardonable and will show your lack of professionalism. Exercise your social skills when dealing with rude and obnoxious people. If a person is impolite, respond in a courteous manner. This will not only show your mental strength but will prove you a true professional.

Your office may take the form of a desk and chair, a cubicle, a partitioned area or a room.

It is your personal space and there are certain guidelines to observe. You can't simply barge in or walk into your colleague's area as and when you feel like it. You are expected to knock or call out the person's name before you enter his or her domain. Some bosses, though, may not mind you walking in anytime; if that is the policy they have adopted - but if he/she is the big boss, call before you enter his/her room because sometimes your standing outside without warning waiting to be called in could be disturbing and distracting if he/she is in a midst of a call or a discussion.

Refrain from borrowing your colleagues' stationery and office supplies when yours run out.

Use office facilities with care and consideration. Treat common room facilities like wash/lunch rooms with care, as you are not the only one to use them.

When you do decide to leave a job there are certain niceties that you should observe. Imagine your boss's plight after all the future investment made on you in the form of scholarships, training and travel etc., thinking you would stay on and suddenly you announce that you are quitting, and worse still that it is to join a competitor!!

No one is indispensable no doubt, but you just can't leave them high and dry Give your present boss a chance to hire someone before you leave and help your replacement with the training.

When you do decide to resign, do it graciously and with dignity. After all, you never know when you will need your former boss or their company's service.

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