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“Dreaming” – Thaala Asapuwa’s Storytelling Through Dance | Chalanka Athalage | Melbourne Australia

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Thaala Asapuwa Sri Lankan Dance Academy, under the visionary leadership of its founder, Chalanka Athalage, embarks on a new journey titled “Dreaming – Story Telling Through Dance.” This Australian-based academy, established in 2009 and registered as a non-profit organization in 2011, has evolved from humble beginnings into a thriving institution with over 130 dancers across three locations in Victoria. The academy’s primary objective is to provide a platform for individuals residing outside of Sri Lanka to study traditional Sri Lankan dance forms and engage in practical experiences through rehearsals and live performances.

Inspiring Sri Lankan Dance Innovators: The Essence of Dreaming
The intention behind this discourse is to foster awareness and inspire future Sri Lankan Dance Choreographers and Art Directors to approach their craft with fresh perspectives. The term “Dreaming” in this context draws inspiration from the Australian Aboriginal concept, representing a time when ancestral spirits shaped the land, creating life and significant geographical formations. The Aboriginal philosophy, known as dreaming, underscores the interconnectedness of all beings, with stories passed down through various mediums like art, ceremony, and song.

Embracing Change: From Tradition to Modernity
The academy acknowledges pivotal moments in the history of Sri Lankan dance, highlighting figures such as Guru Chitrasena, Professor Ediriweera Sarachchandra, and Guru Channa Wijewardane. These trailblazers challenged traditional norms, bringing ancient dance rituals to the stage and revolutionising the presentation of Sri Lankan dance forms.

Expanding the Narrative: Storytelling and Social Commentary
In recent times, dance has been utilised to convey social messages, exemplified by creations like Gayan Srimal’s “Thaana Handaava” and Anasuya Subasinghe’s “Nomala Kolam.” These performances introduced new movements and artistic expressions to address issues such as discrimination against women, LGBTQ communities, and political matters.

Thaala Asapuwa’s Vision: Dreaming – Story Telling Through Dance
Inspired by Indigenous communities, Thaala Asapuwa aims to revolutionise Sri Lankan dance presentations through creative thinking and storytelling. The upcoming project, “Dreaming – Story Telling Through Dance,” comprises four productions over the next two years: “Cry of the Spirit,” “Forgiving Land,” “Scar Faced Prince,” and “Kankari Padha.”


Challenges and Motivations
While the new project poses financial challenges with a planned budget exceeding $200,000.00 and expected income falling below, Thaala Asapuwa remains committed to non-commercial motivations. Founder Chalanka Athalage draws inspiration from past experiences and work ethics learned while collaborating with Dayani Gonsalkorale in Wellington, New Zealand.

Preserving Values: Thaala Asapuwa’s Vision
Thaala Asapuwa envisions a community of dancers where values are respected, jealousy and greed are absent, and creativity is embraced. Chalanka Athalage aims to pass on these qualities to the next generation of dancers, fostering an environment where dance takes centre stage in a place called Thaala Asapuwa.



By Chalanka Athalage – Melbourne Australia

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