Where Sri Lanka and France contemporised dance on one stage

Published : 12:02 am  July 24, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 


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French National Ballet of Tours 


Untitled-2The French Spring Festival 2018 invited many international artistes from France to showcase their talents and exchange the two cultures in various fields from street art to dancing to music. One of the highlights of the Festival was the French National Ballet of Tours where Thomas Lebrun – an internationally acclaimed French choreographer and director of the Centre Chorégraphique National De Tours (CCNT) shared the stage with nATANDA Dance Theatre founded by Kapila Palihawadana. 

 “It’s a good opportunity for us and we are proud to be a part of the French Spring Festival,” said Kapila in an interview with the Daily Mirror Life. “This is the first time we are involved with this Festival and it’s great to share and understand the French dance culture while exchanging our own. It’s an interesting collaboration because there are many similarities in contemporary dance. Therefore there are matching concepts behind this production and also I think it’s a new opening for Sri Lankan contemporary dance.”

Just a day before the show, Thomas conducted a workshop for students of nATANDA Dance Theatre where he introduced basic steps to improve their balance and coordination. “The workshop was quite productive as it gives an insight to their dance styles while also exchanging our styles. I feel that our students are privileged because otherwise they have to go abroad to learn these techniques. This knowledge is immense and many of these dancers come from all over the country and it’s a great opportunity for them. Both countries are advanced in our own ways but we understand the vocabulary. For this show we added a contemporary touch to five traditional Vannams to showcase Sri Lankan traditional dance, classical ballet and the contemporary techniques.”

Life-2-9In his comments, Thomas said that it was very interesting to work with local dancers. “It’s not the usual workshop that we did this time. I have been a professional dancer for the past 25 years. At the beginning I did dancing for pleasure and then I started to teach and eventually became a dancer in various dancing companies and then started choreographing at my own company. Now I’m one of the directors of a company with 19 choreographers. 
I specialise in contemporary dance. I usually introduce basic steps and slowly progress to advance steps. The young crowd in France is very much interested in classical dance and they start contemporary dance when they are adolescents. 


The show was a blend of traditional and modern contemporary dance styles where the two countries showed their distinct talents in the same contemporary dance genre. 


Now they try to take contemporary dance styles and mix with other genres such as hip hop. It’s interesting to be a part of the French Spring Festival and I wish to learn more about the country and its dancing techniques.”

The show was a blend of traditional and modern contemporary dance styles where the two countries showed their distinct talents in the same contemporary dance genre. “Another Look at Memory” by Thomas Lebrun introduced in November 2017 showcased memory and the importance of transmission. The 60 minute performance commenced with a few basic steps and eventually advanced into a complex rendition of movements. This dance show also becomes a special moment as it was the premier of “Another Look at Memory” outside France.

Vannam by nATANDA choreographed by Kapila Palihawadana himself showcased a blend of five traditional Vannam steps blended into a contemporary dance form. nATANDA is Sri Lanka’s first contemporary dance company and its dance styles are derived from Kapila’s experience and lessons in dance. 

Towards the end of the show, the two choreographers also pulled off a surprise act in the form of a fusion which grabbed the attention of the crowd. Towards the end of the show a few guests shared their experience with us.