Interview with Nishi Ranathunga.


Having completed the Sri Lankan Gandharva Exams, Nishi Ranathunga studied Bartha Natyam and obtained a University  Diploma in Performing Art. Now she teaches a range of subjects in performing arts, Auckland, to kids, youth and adults. This is a summary of the interview Harsha Weerakoon of ‘The ශ්‍රී LankaNZ’ had with her.

 

You are one of the few Sri Lankan dancing teachers in Auckland. Can you tell us how you started your involvement in dancing?

I started dancing at the age of five. Sri Lankan Traditional Dance was an attraction for me from the early days of my school life. Later, I learned the subject and completed the national qualifications with Swarna Basnayake, a highly regarded Vishaka College dancing teacher. After that, I advanced my expertise under Dr Channa Wijewardane and his wife, Upuli Panibaratha, at their Arts Foundation, in Sri Lanka. I completed Baratha Arangethram with  S. Jayantha. Prof. Mudiyanse Dissanayake was my teacher in traditional drums. Thus it had been a long and challenging journey.2)

 


Dr Channa was a student of Chithrasena and Upuli, the daughter of Paneebharatha. Both Chitrasena and Paneebharatha are legends in the field. Then Professor Mudiyanse Dissanayake is a scholar in Sri Lankan classical dancing. After moving into New Zealand with this background, you have started helping Sri Lankan kids in the area of your expertise. Can you explain to us a little more?

We started New Zealand Sri Lanka Dancing Studio, in 2017, with the help of  NZSL Foundation under Sydney Fernando. Now the classes are held in Panmure, Ellerslie, Glenfield, North Shore, and Takanini group-wise. The Junior Group is for 3 1/2 to 8 years old kids, and the Intermediate Group is for 8 to 15 years old kids. Then we have classes for beginners of any age with no prior knowledge. There’s no age limit to learn dance. Finally, we have Zumba classes for adults who want to do dance as exercise, conducted by a New Zealand Certified Zumba instructor. This is a popular exercise method with dancing. Our students will get valid certificates after successful completion of the courses.

 

I understand that there are achievements in your decade’s long journey. Can you mention a few?

Yes. We have won first places in several international competitions like Nepali’s Multicultural Festival in 2019, Bollywood Dance Competition in 2020, International Diversity Festival (Youth Category/SL traditional Dance) in 2020. I have travelled to China, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Macau and Indonesia representing Sri Lankan Traditional Dancing.

 

What is your message to kids, children, parents and others who are interested in dancing?

 The new technology and the advent of electronic devices have made far-reaching changes in all aspects of performing art. Anyone interested in should understand that this is equally applicable even in the field of traditional dancing. In the NZ Sri Lanka Dance Studio, we are mindful of this and learn new styles and techniques, updating ourselves to maintain our courses to offer our students the best. 

 

So your students are always ready with the new trends?

Yes. They are always ‘in Dancing shoes.’

 

Further information.

‘NZ Sri Lanka Dance Studio’

Nishi 0223719913. nzsldancestudio@gmail.com

FB page/Nishi Ranatunga/ Instagram/YouTube