Introductory Session & Initial Talent Audition for Delft Island and Kilinochchi from 22nd – 25th April 2021
Cultural Dancing & Performing Arts sector is identified as one of the major players under the tourism amenities cluster in the tourism value chain. Modern traveller who prefers the community tourism activities would like to enjoy the cultural entertainment activities native to the respective destination. Yet, as an emerging destination for tourism, Northern Province cultural dancers were not professionally engaged or formed as a cultural troupe in tourism at present. In order to professionalise this micro based cultural dancers as a group in order to convert them into revenue generating sector under the tourism value chain, Northern Tourism launched a pilot programme in Delft Island and Kilinochchi under the supervision of Kilinochchi District Secretariat and Delft Divisional Secretariat. The introductory session and initial audition were conducted from 22nd to 25th April 2021 by a renown professional dancing troupe in Colombo, Lakshaman Manchanayake Dancing Academy. 42 Cultural Dancers from Delft Island and 47 Youth dancers from Kilinochchi District representing the societies attended the initial audition.
Youth dancers attended the introductory and initial talent audition on 24th & 25th April 2021 held in
Kilinochchi, Divisional Secretariat Cultural Hall.
Kilinochchi being the connecting land which has boundaries for all five districts of the Northern Province has a to play a significant role in attracting tourists for a longer stay. Such activities like cultural dancing acts as a self-promotional tool for a destination once it is promoted in international markets. The practical examples like Kandyan Dancer being famous among thousands of tourists in the destination of Kandy, Sri Lanka provides evidence for this model. Understanding the fact, Kilinochchi was chosen as another pilot to showcase the connectivity of Cultural Dancing with the other value chain clusters in Northern Tourism.
The introductory session and audition were organised by the Cultural Affairs Division of Kilinochchi District Secretariat under the guidance of Mrs. R. Ketheeswaran, District Secretary of Kilinochchi and Mr. Shirimohanan, Additional District Secretary of Kilinochchi.
Kilinochchi dancing group is a combination of artists those who has skills in Bharatha Natyam, Kathakali and other folk dancing methods. The artists are geographically located in Pachillaipalli, Karaichi, Kanadavalai and Poonagari Divisional Secretariats. Currently, they operate as dancing clubs namely Art’s friends club Pachillaipalli, Jannu Arangetram Arts Club Karaichi, Sivajanalaya Arts Club Karaichi, Kalai Olizi Arts Club Kanadavalai, Kanagi Narthanalaya Poonagari, Sivakalai Natiyalaya Karaichi, Krishna Arts Club, Poonagari, Indrakumar Jilanai Pachillaipalli, Mahadewa Swamikal Society in Kilinochchi. All societies are connected under the District Secretariat in order to be professionalised for future opportunities in national and international platforms.
“After 12 years of a long-standing civil war, northern province was not given a huge priority for such cultural developments based on tourism as the major priorities were given for resettlements and rehabilitation of affected people. Therefore, most of the artists are currently quite from the professional stages. With the future opportunities in Tourism brought up with Real North Initiative, these artists will have a great opportunity to excel their talents for the national and international audiences” said Ms. Harshi Abeynayake, Value Chain Officer addressing the team of dancers in Kilinochchi.
She further explained that providing proper knowledge on the professional dancing opportunities available locally and internationally as well as developing capacities through skill development programme to address the time skills and activities based on the customer requirement are the key objectives of this programme.
Creating a definite income source for the dance and drama artists by bringing the Tamil cultural folk dancing style into the international level through improved capacity building is also expected.
“More importantly, preservation of dying arts and the artists while creating a skilful next generation will be a valuable outcome of this project” explained Ms. Abeynayake addressing the dancers.
Mr. Manchanayake, founder of the Lakshman Manchanayake Dancing Academy started the session in Kilinochchi introducing dancing as a profession in the international context.
Scientific methods of choreography was taught by the trainers using different musical meditation exercises during the programme.
Team was given the opportunity to present different situations in life using the expressions of dances and drama.
Depicting a coffin, a funeral using the creative performing arts……..
A traditional wedding ceremony in North, using the art…..
“Active participation of young women for this industry will be a good sign of a future growth” expressed by Mr. Kingsley, Professional trainer of Lakshman Manchanayake Dancing Academy addressing the audience in Kilinochchi. The team was given the opportunity to perform as a group at the second day of the audition.
The introductory session was able to increase the awareness on the professional dancing opportunities for the rural dancers as well as the idea of generating income using the opportunities available in the future tourism industry.
Delft Island, Jaffna Programme
Cultural dancers attending the opening session in Delft Island on 22nd and 23rd April 2021
Divisional Secretariat of Delft Island welcomed the trainers and the organising team according to the Northern Tradition with a colourful Kumbham (a cultural welcome table comprised with lamp, flower, rice, banana, coconut and three holy dusts including saffron).
Delft Island has numerous dancing troupes practicing various dancing styles. Among those, Aalamavanam Kallai Kulumam Cultural Dancer’s Society was founded with the objective of preserving the dying performing arts named as “Nattu Kuuththu” for the future generations under the leadership of Divisional Secretariat of the Delft Island which is an isolated island in the Indian Oceans owned by the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. The island is currently sheltering for 1329 families.
Preservation of Tamil Folk Dancing for the next generation with the participation of traditional dancers in the Delft Island was addressed as a key matter during the focused group discussions related to tourism value chain. Currently the society operates at the village temple place and the artists perform an annual show at the open natural theatre set- up at the village. Similarly, the artists visit various locations in the country to participate for the shows.
Few of the oldest traditional dancers in the Delft Island attending for the lighting of the customary oil lamp…
With the improvement of tourism in Delft Island after the civil war, some potentials for the cultural dancers to perform live for the local and international tourists visiting the Island were recognised by the Divisional Secretariet. Before the pandemic, the Delft Island attracted a significant number of tourists daily specially the travellers prefer the nature, culture, and the beach in the delft island. Although at present the international tourists are not visiting due to the pandemic, the domestic tourism season is about to begin with the lifted pandemic restrictions in the country. The project would create benefits to the dancers scattered within the delft island including women. In addition to the above society, there are number of other micro scale cultural troupes formed in the area also was given opportunity to join the programme.
Mr. Sathyasothi, Divisional Secretary of Delft Island explained the objective of the programme and eloborated the importance of such programme that can be benefitted with the future tourism opportunities in the Island.
Divisional Secretary explained that it is important to know about the available opportunities for the professional dancers in the national and international context.
At the preliminary feasibility analysis conducted by EFECS it was identified that the dancers are lacking with capacities in time management and composition of dancing items expected by the international and tourist audience. Similarly, the fear of performing in international stages and lack of knowledge on converting their skills into income generation source were mainly identified. The dancers do not have enough infrastructure facilities as well as the stages, venues and instruments. Although they could create dancing acts, due to the unavailability of funds to create costumes and jewelleries have become an issue. This was identified as one of the financial requirements through these cluster.
“EFECS aims to support the development of Micro, Small and Medium-scale Entrepreneurs (MSMEs) in Tourism. The emerging cultural dancing profession has been identified as one of the potential incomes generating activities to improve the local economy in a sustainable manner connecting with the tourism value chain in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Considering the emerging opportunities in Delft Island with its island nature to promote tourism as well as the existence of traditional dancers it was selected as one pilot area” said Ms. Harshi Abeynayake, welcoming the cultural dancers in Delft Island on 22nd April 2021. Mr. K. Hershanth, Market Development Officer, EFECS also joined to welcome the audience.
Mr. Manchanayake explained that the dancing was developed based on the historic geographical relations which was empowered by inter-continent tours in the historic era. Later the dancing became a media of exchanging cultures and evolved through various recreational activities such as sports, education. The influence of Indian Culture for Sri Lankan main and minor traditions was a key fact for the evolvement of dance said, Mr. Manchanayake addressing the dancers.
He further elaborated that the changes in social, cultural, political, and economic contexts occurred after the industrial revolution created numerous changes for the traditional dance in the world. Dance, which was limited only for a selected cluster of the society was expanded to the overall community with the evolvement of human needs with the introduction of television, radio, telephone, international transportation, and social media.
Since there were huge awareness generated on international dancing styles and performances via these global communication channels, the traditional dancing sector started creating national as well as international dancing opportunities for the micro scale dancing troupes. With those opportunities, today there are thousands of tourists visiting Sri Lanka to experience these unique traditional dances.
Dancers, getting registered for the programme with the assistance of the staff of the Divisional
Secretariat and Ms. Karthika Somasundaram, Volunteer assisted to the organising team in Delft.
Auditions were conducted focussing on Kuththu style, Folk and other traditional dancing styles.
Young Cultural Dancer in Delft performing her talents at the Audition.
The troupes consisted number of Singers and Instrument Players and their individual talents also identified at the audition.
“Upcoming four days programme would be able to understand how to develop marketable cultural dancing packages and also as an income generating activity. This programme will lead you to understand the best methods of managing an event, stage as well as the costumes making and beauty culture” said Mr. Manchanayake, concluding the session.