Sri Lankan dancers teach culture in GPAH


Maria Shaughnessy

Sri Lankan dancer performs in front of middle school students. Dubbed "devil dancers," these Sri Lankan performers expressed Sri Lankan tradition, the effects of colonialism on artistry and the progression that ensued.

Samira Glaeser-Khan, Managing Editor

Raw and emotional, Sri Lankan dancers performed at Gordon Parks Arts Hall during assembly period last Thursday. The dancers are part of the Mandala South Asian Performing Arts studio’s exchange program sponsored by a grant from the MacArthur foundation.

The dancers had two performances in GPAH, both interactive, titled “Masks & Myths.” As they performed, they explained Sri Lankan culture, blending art with education. Students were even invited on stage to learn simple hand movements.

Earlier this year, dancers from MSAPA traveled to Sri Lanka to learn about their traditional dance techniques.

Head choreographer and founder of MSAPA Pranita Nayar said the exchange program was transformative.

“The people in Sri Lanka are extremely generous and welcoming. They have a rich culture, which they are very proud of, and they display their identity through dance,” she said. “The traditional style of Indian dance we do at our studio is very intricate and ornate, but in contrast the style of dance we learned in Sri Lanka was more raw. It was earthy and passionate.”