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Traditional dancing
Traditional Dancing

Ambalama | Butterflies | Exorcism and The Occult | Kumbuk | Palm | Rice | Traditional Dance | Traditional Musical Instruments

Sri Lanka Traditional Dance

All forms of dance in Sri Lanka exhibit the lithe graceful movements of dance combined with the vigorous movements, reflecting the complex rhythms of the drum beat. The combination of the shrill melodious strains of music of the flutes and the vibrant drum beat is an ideal back drop to the performers who leap and swirl in frenzied mood of dance.

Sinhalese dance separates neatly into two main kinds of dance with a third kind also: The two main kinds are,

(a) The up country - (Kandyan) dance
(b) The low country  - (Southern or devil dance)    and the third kind is
(c) The Sabaragamuwa dance.

Although both forms exhibit vigorous moments common to the all dance in Sri Lanka the basic difference is in the manner in which the dancer perform their rituals, which require different dance rhythms and drum beats.

Ves Dance. (Kandyan Dancing)

A unique , typically Kandyan or up-country form of dancing that symbolizes the traditional Sinhalese dance. Since the people of Sri Lanka have always been inclined towards ritual and ceremony from the olden days, this from of kandyan dance is performed at religious processions and ceremonies and at all other kinds of occasions and ceremonies. The dancer wear elaborate head dresses while his face remains visible. They also wear sparking adornments for ears neck and arms and breast plates glistening with shiny bead and frilled cloth.

He is the typical Kandyan dancer of Sri Lanka.

The aesthetics of Kandyan dance and it's rhythmic vigorous movements and foot work can be really appreciated in it's original setting, the "Kohomba Kankariya", a Kandyan ritual dance, performed in honor of the God Kohomba of the Kohomba tree -( Margosa, a tree of medicinal value) and to invoke his blessings. There are over  30 ceremonies and over 50 dancers dance and whirl on a magnificently decorated pavilion. Attired in the traditional Kandyan dance costume. The ritual itself lasts for a week and reaches a climax in the final night and the morning after.

No women danced in the original ritual, but today, with the emergence of the theatrical women too participate in the dance, a development which  has softened the masculine moves of this dynamic dance form.

Vannam Dance.

Another category of dance entertainment of the Kandyan is known as the "Vannama", which is a beautiful combination of poetry and dance. The Vannama depicts the life in nature around you, and are descriptive dances mannered after the animals and birds whose movements they mimic. The dancer moves to and intricate pattern of rhythms which marks only a superficial attempt to portray the movements of the subject of the song of poem. Movements of the subject of the song of poem. There are 18 Vannam patterns, or song - classes. Some excellent examples of this dance are,

•  Gjaga Vannama - The Elephant Dance (accompanied to a slow, dignified song.

•  Ukussa Vannama - Hawk dance

•  Mayura Vannama - Peacock dance

•  Thuraga Vannama - Horse dance

The vannamas follow a peculiar pattern. The opening rhythms imitate the majestic movement of the elephant, the trot or gallop of the horse, of the swoop of the hawk, but as the song ends, the dancer springs into action, changing into a frenzied rhythm of pure ecstatic movements.

All these subjects of nature are favorite symbols in the Sinhalese art world, and occur very often in paintings carvings and literature.

The Vannama is a very sophisticated and artistic dance, and carries with it the bare elements of a future baler suite. It is from these Vannamas that many of the theatrical creations of the modern dances of the country have emerged.

The Esala Perehera (Kandyan Dancing)

This ceremony is a procession and is one of the most spectacular pageants in South-Asia. Once a year, the holy Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha is brought out of the enshrined Palace or Temple and carried along the streets of Kandy , so that public homage could be paid. The ceremonial procession streams along the streets for 10 nights, the circuits increasing as well as the grand trappings so that in the final night it is one of the most splendid sights in Sri Lanka .

The traditional Kandyan dancers, attired in frilled costumes and glistening beads and breast plates, dance, skip and whirl to the vibrant drum beats, their anklets and headdress sparkling in the golden glow of torches.00 in final night,

Mask Dance of the Low Country

This is another unique form of dancing with masks which are mostly wooden. It is a typical low-country dance, performed in the southern part of the island, along the coastal belt, south of Colombo .

The mask is not a mere covering of the face, but it is an elaborate head and face dress, which magically transforms the appearance of the dancer into the character he depicts in the dance.

This kind of low country dance evolved from folk rituals which eventually gave rise to the so-called devil-dancing, of the south of Sri Lanka .

In addition to pure dance movements, they combine elements of mime, dramatic dialogue and impersonations in authentic folk rituals performed to the exotic beat of the "demon-drum" quite different from the "geta-bera" drum beat of the Kandyan up-country dance forms.

Ambalama | Butterflies | Exorcism and The Occult | Kumbuk | Palm | Rice | Traditional Dance | Traditional Musical Instruments