STAFF

Achala Weerasinghe

Director of Operations

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to our website. Sri Lanka Foundation Academy of Performing Arts (SLFAPA) is the pioneer accredited Sri Lankan Cultural Education Institute in the U.S.A. which paves the way for the children of Sri Lankan expatriates as well as all other interested students to learn and experience the Sri Lankan traditions and values. My heartfelt gratitude is extended to our Founder/CEO - Walter Jayasinghe, M.D., MPH untiring efforts and continued support.

Since its inception in 2015, it has been a long and fruitful journey for SLFAPA. As a WASC accredited institution, we aspire to guide the children to breathe life to our precious traditional dancing and drumming genres, with the help of highly qualified and professional staff.

With our vision - to achieve and inspire hope for improved lives and livelihoods of Sri Lankan and related communities worldwide, we strive to provide a balanced education and empower socially skilled young people who will contribute positively to the society’s wellbeing.

Achala Weerasinghe
Director of Operations


Teachers

Lal Thilakarathna

Lal Thilakarathana, the principal of the SRI LANKA FOUNDATION Academy of Performing Arts is the most senior dance and drumming instructor at The SRI LANKA FOUNDATION Academy of Performing Arts. Lal first started dancing when he was six years old at the Sri Nimalweera Kalayathanaya, Ratnapura, Sri Lanka. He learned to perform Kohomba Kankariya, Bali rituals and many more folk rituals and dance traditions at that institution for more than ten years before he graduated in 1986 followed by a “Ves Baduma” ceremony in 1989. Lal continued his higher education with a diploma of ” Lalitha kala ” (NYC) and National Gandharva exam. In 2014 he was offered a bachelors degree from Shakspeare Center Sri Lanka in dancing, drama, and stage productions. He has performed in more than 35 countries at some of the most prestigious venues including Sydney Opera house and Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. Lal has performed in front of hundred and two world leaders including Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales. As a dance instructor, he taught many students at prestigious dance academies around the world including, Sri Lankan Art Council of Sydney, Channa Upuli Dance Academy & Lal Thilakarathna Rangayathana in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He also conducted the first Traditional Sri Lankan Graduation ceremony (pahinpath mangalyaya) in Califonia.

Sevwandie Rajapaksa

Ms. Sevwandie Rajapaksa joined the Sri Lanka Foundation Academy of Performing Arts as a Professional Dancing Instructor. Ms. Rajapaksa has a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Science and presently works as a Clinical Cancer Researcher. However, her passion for traditional Sri Lankan dance got into her at the tender age of six and obtained her General Certificate of Education (GCE/OL) in Dancing from the Ministry of Education Sri Lanka. Since then Sevwandhi has been at the forefront of traditional Sri Lankan dance. besides her very challenging career at USC presently. Sevwandi has a proven background in traditional Sinhala dance, which includes upcountry, low country, and folk dance as well as Bharatha Natyam. She has been under the watchful guidance of her gurus Ranjini Selvanayagam in Kandyan and Barath Natyam and Channa-Upuli Wijewardena Dance Academy in Cinematic performances. She has transformed from a young little girl dancing during Sinhala New Year celebrations in Sri Lanka to a much talented and professional performer and choreographer today. She has well over 5 years of professional Performing Arts experience. Sevwandi has won many accolades that include Sri Lanka Western Province Indian Classical Dance Winner in 1988, participation in the 14th Asian Athletic Championship Opening ceremony in dance performances; participant in the 10th Asian Games Opening ceremony in a dance acts; Winona State University International Day Guest Performance; City of Rochester MN Parks and Recreation Art and Cultural Show; and a Nepali fusion performance, to name a few. At this point in her vocation, Sevwandi has found another love as great as her passion for dancing. She has given herself up to teaching the great traditional art of Sri Lankan dance and passing on her vast knowledge to those who would take our traditional cultural heritage to the next level.

Umendra Kahadawaarachchi

Umendra Kahadawaarachchi is a Sri Lankan dancer, drummer , choreographer and an instructor of dance living in America. She has been dancing since the age of 4. She joined the Piyasara Shilpadhipathi Dance School at the age of 7, and later graduated in the year 1994. She also received national certifications from the Ministry of Education, in Sri Lanka for primary and advanced level dance examinations (Ghandarva and GCE A/L). She continued to dance with the Piyasara Shilpadhipathi Dance School till 1998 and then migrated to the United States of America in the same year and started her very own dance studio called the ” Nethranjali Dance Academy “. Umendra continued to teach dancing for free to students in America, serving the Sri Lankan community living here. She also received a Bachelors degree with honors in nursing from the University of Phoenix in California and is continuing to advance her studies in nursing while currently working for the Sri Lanka Foundation as a dance instructor here in Los Angeles since 2017.

Dhyan Hewage

Mr. Dhyan Hewage, has joined the Sri Lanka Foundation Academy of Performing Arts Center as an Associate Instructor. He will be assisting our Professional Dance Instructor / Principal as his Assistant.  Dhyan had his education and degree at El Camino College, on Electronics and Computer Hardware Technology and proceeded to Los Angeles Trade Technical College where he obtained an Associate Degree in Advanced transportation and Rail Maintenance, Basic Electrical and Electronic knowledge and Diesel Technology. Besides Dhyan holding the above degree, he is fluent in producing music, a professional singer percussionist, guitarist. Apart from all of the above musical  background he also possesses the ability of handling sound and track systems for large events.  He will be an asset to Sri Lanka Foundation, assisting the Dance Instructor/Principal of Academy of Performing Arts.

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