A new language for dance

By Tahnee Hopman, Pictures by Lekha Edirisinghe

For eight months, Kapila Palihawadana and his team of dancers learnt of the challenges that speech and hearing impaired people have to content with on a regular basis. The result is Sign Speak- which opened yesterday at the British School Auditorium, and will continue till March 15. The performance features 100 children and 12 dancers of nATANDA who will bring the sign language alphabet to life through contemporary dance.

“It has been an enlightening process,” reflects Kapila as he recounts the experience to The Sunday Times. “As always we took a great deal of time to learn sign language as well as to get to know the people who use it the most. What struck us was the extent of the emotional struggle they face.

There was a great deal of sorrow, anger and aggression to contend with but at the end of it all we had a whole new level of understanding and empathy for them, as well as respect for their perseverance and focus.”

A daring venture to break the perceptions of the capabilities of the impaired Sign Speak is all about proving just how expressive a sign can be, and that contrary to the attitude that an activity like dance is not possible for these children, expression through dance is possible for anyone.

“It is a new concept that would definitely arouse a great deal of interest,” explains Kapila, adding that the show promises to inspire a great deal of hope in its audience. Curious? Watch the dancers of Sign Speak. Tickets for the show are priced at Rs. 2500, 1500, 1000 and 500 are available at the Goethe Institut, The Alliance Francaise de Kotte and at the British School Auditorium.

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