Chitrasena – “One of the most virile dancers of any nation we have seen” – Sydney Daily Herald

Chitrasena – “One of the most virile dancers of any nation we have seen” – Sydney Daily Herald

Chitrasena performing outside the R&I Bank, Barrack Street, Perth, February 1972.

Deshamanya Chitrasena (born Amaratunga Arachige Maurice Dias) (26 January 1921 – 18 July 2005) was a dancer from Sri Lanka, internationally known for his work in establishing a modern Sri Lankan tradition of dance and popularising traditional Sri Lankan dance forms worldwide. He was awarded the Deshamanya award by the Sri Lankan government in 1998.

This is the 2nd time the Chitrasena Ballet returned to Australia, as the Chitrasena Ceylon Dance Ensemble, supported by the Arts Council of Australia and the Ceylon Tea Bureau, to perform at the Adelaide Festival, the Festival of Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and at the playhouse of the Canberra Theatre in 1972.

The first tour to Australia of the Chitrasena Ballet was in 1963 under the patronage of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, where after their initial performance at the Festival of Perth, they presented seasons in Sydney, Melbourne, Launceston and Hobart. Produced and directed by its founder, Chitrasena, and led by him and his wife, Vajira, the company presented two programs in their inaugural Australian tour. After his performance in Sydney, Australia in 1963, the Sydney “Daily Herald” said that Chitrasena is “one of the most virile dancers of any nation we have seen on a Sydney stage”. After his performance in Sydney, the Sydney “Daily Herald” newspaper once again, repeated its praise of him from a decade earlier, in the very same words. 43 yrs later the Chitrasena Dance Company performed at The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre & at the Sydney Festival in January 2015 titled ‘Dancing for the Gods’ coincidently with Thaji Dias as the company’s principal dancer – following in the footsteps of her grandparents, who danced at the playhouse of the Canberra Theatre in 1972. Picture Credits – State Library of Western Australia

Nishan is a raconteur and a lover of art, history and architecture. His journey began more than 30 years ago when he started collecting and saving copies of publications which captured significant moments in Sri Lankan history. He intends to digitize the contemporary Sri Lankan history even in a smaller way through The Archives.

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