Upeka Chithrasena Says Goodbye to the Stage
By Sandun W - Tue Nov 08, 5:55 pm
Upeka Chithrasena who carried on the legacy of the world renowned dancing duo the late Chitrasena and his wife Vajira decided to say goodbye to the stage recently after completing fifty years as a dancer.
“I’m not going to stop dancing, I have just decided to quit from stage appearance. I think I have lot more to do to the benefit of our dancing academy and to those who love dancing. Lots of young talented girls and boys now represent our dancing academy, so I have no doubt that they will continue from where I stopped and take this art to new heights.”
“My main aim is to build a dancing school that allows talented children all over Sri Lanka to stay and learn this magnificent performing art. In fact we have finished with the building plan already. The sad side of this project is there is no one to fund this project, my parents dedicated and sacrificed their entire life and wealth to bring up the present academy to its present standard, so I hope the people who know the real value of this art will contribute to this worthy cause if requested. At the moment our academy organizes various shows and presentations to raise funds for this project. I also hope to put up a museum in memory of my parents so that the next generation will understand the true value of our arts and how our parents have contributed to our country.”
“Having made my debut on stage in “Vanaja” in 1958 which was a children’s ballet produced by Vajira Chitrasena, at the age of seven, I did not remember anything but the excitement of being on stage. It was Vajira Chitrasena, my mother, who instilled discipline in us (my sister and I) and encouraged us to take part in dancing sessions. Up to the point I was privileged, for the first time to play the lead role in the Children’s ballet ‘Rankikili’ in 1965 at the age of thirteen. The period spent in the house where we stayed upstairs while dancing sessions were conducted downstairs, was an exciting period. My sense of being a mature dancer emerged when I played the lead role in “Kinkini Kolama” in 1978, a ballet especially created by Chitrasena and Vajira, my parents, for me. It was a colorful career during which I participated in almost all the productions by the Chitrasena Kalayathanaya. Considering the development of dance drama and ballet in the country, the initial development took place in the Chitrasena Kalayathanaya; Vajira Chitrasena produced many children’s ballets and ballets like Ginihora in 1967, Chandalika in 1996 and Bera Handa in 2001. Since then on, the development of ballets in school has been successful and the school has been high standards”
“I myself have sacrificed a lot for the benefit of the “Chithrasena Vajira Kalayathanaya”, I have married for 38 years and didn’t think of child of my own, my husband has given me the freedom and courage to my present success. But I have three beloved daughters (my brother’s children) who are capable enough to take the future responsibility of this academy.”
The daughters of Anudatta (Chitrasena’s son) and Janaki Dias, Thaji and her sister Umadanthi are devoted to the school their grandparents founded – and to preserving a vanishing tradition. Thaji herself says she has no interest in straying from the classical forms she loves – “what is lacking in our country is the traditional work. If we don’t preserve it, nobody else will…it really comes down to that.” If it is unusual to find such an appreciation for tradition in one so young, it is equally surprising to uncover the kind of dogged commitment that Thaji displays
We at Lanka Help Magazine convey our sincere gratitude to this legendary artist.