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13th September 1998

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Of classical dance and tradition

The launch of the book The Classical Dance of Sri Lanka_ Kandyan Dance by Sicille P.C Kotelawala was celebrated at the author's home last week amidst a gathering of dignitaries, friends and the media.

That Sicille Kotelawala knows her subject there is no doubt. She had her training in Kandyan dance at the feet of two of its greatest exponents-Nittawela Gunaya and Heen Baba and went on to perform not only in her homeland but also to much acclaim in London and Oxford. A founder member of the Sinhala Institute of Culture in London, she also directed a Kandy Dance troupe on a successful 22 city tour of the U.S. Deeply interested in her subject she also lectured and taught extensively. Her talks at Asia House, the Museum of Natural History, New York and the Smithsonian Institute , Washington were recorded for their respective Archives.

The book a glossy publication has chapters on history and legend, folk religion and the dance of Sri Lanka, The Kohomba Kankariya, Preparation for Kohomba Kankariya , the making of a traditional Kandyan dancer, The Ves Costume, Bera to name a few. It is also replete with interesting photographs, some of them featuring the author herself in her dancing days. One that may be of particular interest today is a scene from the Seechapathika (Kuveni) Kandyan ballet in which the two performers pictured are the author and Chandrika Bandaranaike.

Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike in a special message said "by authoring this book on Kandyan dance forms, Sicille Kotelawala has fulfilled a great need and those who would like to learn more about Kandyan dance and its traditions now have the opportunity to do so.."

Country Road back on the road

Remember Country Road, the concert? Well "Country Road" is back on the road again this year, as the Country Music Foundation (CMF) revives this popular country and folk concert after a three-year break.

"We were unable to present the concert for three years running from 1995-1997 due to unavoidable circumstances. But we are back and country fans can look forward to the continuation of this popular show for many more years," a CMF spokesman said.

Country Road ran continuously for seven years from 1988 to 1994 and featured Sri Lanka's top country artistes and folk singers and a host of foreign artistes from Germany, the United States, Britain, Canada and the Maldives.

This year's show, the eighth in the series of annual concerts, is to - as the past - raise funds for children. The CMF is presenting the concert in association with UNICEF and the main sponsors are Ceylinco Life Insurance, Sunday Times and Trans Asia hotel (as the host hotel). The concert will be held on Sunday, October 18 and will feature a host of local musicians like Cosmic Rays, Flame, Mariazelle, Anton (Gunatillake) and Friends and a guest artiste to be decided later. This year's show is also significant as it is a dedication concert for country singer John Denver who died in a plane crash earlier this year. Denver's famous song "Country Road" was the inspiration for this show way back in 1988.

UNICEF in association with the CMF (a non-profit body) has been raising funds for children's projects in Sri Lanka through this series of concerts since 1988.

The CMF's objective is two-fold: raising funds for children and creating an awareness of children's rights and needs, and promoting country and western music in Sri Lanka. The concerts, in which all the proceeds go for UNICEF projects, have raised more than 750,000 rupees and spent on tube wells for poor families, pre-school buildings for children in the north and the east and a number of other projects over the years.

He needs help

U. T. Piyasena, 41, a poor commercial artist from Padaviya, is due to undergo a kidney transplant.

Piyasena, a father of three small children, will obtain a kidney due to the generosity of his sister. But the family are unable to cope with the expenses of surgery and post-surgical treatment, which will cost around Rs. five lakhs. A fund has been started to raise money on behalf of Piyasena in People's Bank, Padaviya. It is called the U.T. Piyasena aid fund and carries the account number of 207-029163-0. Any contributions to save this critically ill man will be deeply appreciated by his wife and children.

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