Sri Lanka Dance Company / Attention, demons of Hawaii:You have officially been warned. The devil-masked Sri Lanka Dance Company has arrived and is prepared to exorcise evil spirits out of the sick and afflicted. Actually, devil dance and trance rhythm-exorcism is just one component of the traditional dance/theater that evolved from the folk rituals of this fabled island. Comedy is also a large element, as are storytelling, mime and dramatic dialogue. The 10-member ensemble includes dancers, drummers, masks of myriad expressions and exotic costuming. And the music—well, you won’t be humming the songs on the way home, but you have to appreciate trance drumming and all that it affords altered states of human consciousness. After all, Sri Lankan drums have a history over 2,500 years old.
Sri Lanka (Sanskrit for sacred island) was not always Sri Lanka. It was known to the ancient Greeks as Taprobane, Serendib to the Arabs and Ceylon to the English, until its current designation upon independence. Despite a devastating tsunami, years of civil war with the Tamil Tigers and the hegemonic influences of various foreign cultures, Sri Lankans continue to demonstrate the uniqueness and beauty of their cultural legacy through dance, theater and music. Perhaps the sons and daughters of Serendib will spread a little serendipity here in Hawaii.
Presented by the East-West Center Arts Program and by the UHM Department of Theatre and Dance and the Institute for Development of Community Strengths (INDECOS) in Matara, Sri Lanka. An exhibit of Sri Lankan masks will be on display April 14-June 14 at the East-West Center Gallery.