Each different dance style has its own special attraction and value. Naomi Rajaratnam’s dance school ‘With My Feet’ will be showcasing the different styles in a very unique way at their upcoming show ‘Grace & Glory’ at the Bishop’s College Auditorium on August 17 and 18. Grace & Glory aims to show that different styles [...]


Stepping out of the box in their dancing shoes

The cast of ‘Grace & Glory’ presented by Naomi Rajaratnam, talk to Sashini Rodrigo about the challenge of incorporating different forms of dance to create one cohesive number

Each different dance style has its own special attraction and value. Naomi Rajaratnam’s dance school ‘With My Feet’ will be showcasing the different styles in a very unique way at their upcoming show ‘Grace & Glory’ at the Bishop’s College Auditorium on August 17 and 18.

All for the love of dance: The dancers all set for Grace and Glory

Grace & Glory aims to show that different styles of dance can be performed to a single piece of music. Interestingly, the dancers have had to step out of their particular comfort zones to incorporate other styles and techniques to create a cohesive number.

Catching up with some of Naomi’s dancers at one of their many practices, we find a varied group all driven by their love of dance. Piyusha De Soysa only began dancing when she was in college, and focused on Latin dancing as a student of Kevin Nugara. However, for Grace & Glory, Piyusha will be branching out into jazz funk as well as the jive and cha cha.

Bharatha De Silva has been dancing with Naomi since 2003, and has participated in most of her shows. His strengths are mainly Latin and ballroom dancing, though he stresses that he doesn’t do the salsa. “Street Latin is a bit allergic to me!” he jokes, while his dancing partner Tarja De Silva laughs. Grace and Glory sees Bharatha doing all sorts of styles. He explains the concert will include everything from flamenco and contemporary to comedic acts as well. It will also feature unusual combinations like bharatha natyam alongside classical ballet.

Just like Bharatha, Tarja is also pushing herself to try out different things. A ballroom dancer since the age of 13, she says she’s used to having her feet on the floor during a routine. However, Grace & Glory will also include an act that mainly consists of her “being up in the air!” which is a challenge.

But it all comes with practice, which Tarja describes as “rigorous” for each act in the show runs into the other without a break.

Sixteen-year-old ballet dancer Ashvini Wijeyapala will also be showcasing similarly energetic routines, and believes in the importance of “working together as a group.” Ashvini has started learning other styles and will be performing Latin, contemporary and modern ballet. Though grasping the different routines was “really hard!” for her, both she and Naomi have been working on the techniques and she is confident that the audience will appreciate the variety of styles that will be showcased.

Similar to Ashvini, 12-year-old Deliya Senanayake too found that she was able to grasp different dance styles with ease by working on technique with Naomi. The youngest dancer in the show, Deliya has been in love with dance since she was a kid. Though she focuses mostly on the Western style of dance like ballet and tap, she will also be performing Oriental and Latin acts.

Medical student Gimhani Kathriarachchi with her demanding studies constantly faces difficulties managing her time. But as she says, “If you love dancing, you’ll somehow make time!” Gimhani will be channelling her passion into the contemporary, jazz funk and jive numbers. Though it’s been difficult for her to learn new dance moves after taking a break for ten years as well as handling her time crunch, Gimhani credits Naomi for helping her push through. “I adore Aunty, so I didn’t want to quit on her!”

One of Suraj Mapa’s many talents aside from acting includes dance, which he started in 2001. Suraj has been training under Naomi since then, beginning with Latin dance and eventually branching out into other styles such as Kandyan.

Fun moves: Bharatha and Natasha. On our Magazine cover page are Tharupa and Deliya. Pix by Dilip Kumar

He has appeared in many of Naomi’s shows, which he describes as “an honour” and adds that the concept of combining different styles to one piece of music is something he has never seen before.

Natasha Fonseka also believes that that this blending of styles will bring about “a sense of unity in diversity.” As a freestyle dancer by nature, Natasha tells us she gained all her technical experience through With My Feet. She will be bringing her Latin skills to the stage this time, incorporating styles like the cha cha and samba as well as hip hop and jazz.

The show is benefiting a good cause – the Devsiri Sevana Elders Home.

Channelling all their energy and skill to this production, all the other dancers are also driven by their love and passion for dance, which they say surpasses the challenges.

Tickets and box plan for Grace and Glory are now at the Bishop’s College Auditorium. Tickets are priced at Rs. 4500, Rs. 3500, Rs. 2500, Rs.2000 and Rs.1000

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