INVOKING POETIC PERFORMANCES

Kapila Palihawadana

Human beings have shared the environment with animals since the Palaeolithic period, where they were forced to depend on the natural eco‐system for survival. Our environment, although outside us, has within us not only its image, but also its material energy. Studies on the unity of man and nature state that this presence of nature in an ideal, materialised, energy form in a man’s understanding of Self. Addressing this critical subject, we found Kapila Palihawadana, a veteran of contemporary dance, a key artistic visionary in Sri Lanka who creates a dialogue about man and the ecosystem through performance art.

Kapila’s undertakings as a contemporary dancer has shed light to an essential bond with nature beginning from the titles of his performances ranging from ‘Ravens’ (2012) ‘Ripples’ (2012), ‘Cicada’ (2013), ‘Cats’ (2016) to ‘Vannam’ (2017). “Dance is my nature; nature is my breath”, states Kapila. “Nature is full of ideas; full of feelings; full of emotions; full of freedom”. He reminisces the performance ‘Ripples’, for which the concept took shape during a water cut that prevented him from the comfort of a long shower after eight hours of laborious dancing. He was stunned by the despair resulting from the lack of water in going about one’s daily lives. Water thus provided the inspiration for his performance, which was an attempt at recreating the element’s profound role in the lives of people.

Kapila recollects his relationship with nature with a poignant sense of nostalgia. As a child, he engulfed himself in “the freedom nature gives for one to move”. Feeling free in the insurmountable amount of space for movement and motion that nature permits, Kapila had the ability to actively pursue his love for dance since his early years. Having returned to Sri Lanka in 2002, as a graduate from Germany, Kapila mastered the art of contemporary dance with an insatiable dream for his own dance company that would elevate the local dance scene. In 2005 he concretized his vision, establishing Natanda, Sri Lanka’s foremost contemporary dance company that fuses tradition with modernity. He proudly refers to his brainchild as the country’s modern phase of dance, with the mission to reach all communities through dance movement. Kapila has come a long way since, having produced seventeen productions during a time span of thirteen years. The artist and his students performed locally and internationally including Thailand, South Korea, the Netherlands, USA and India.

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9th October, 2018 Art | Pop Culture & Art

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