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Video Attached! Congratulations to SLF Academy of Performing Arts Students, Welcome to the New School Year 2021!

On Sunday, January 24th the Sri Lanka Foundation Academy of Performing Arts hosted another successful webinar to preset the certificates to the students who completed the Dance & Drumming classes in 2020, and after they enrolled for the New School Year to continue the virtual lessons.

Achala Weerasinghe, the Director of Operations welcomed everyone with a brief description of the school’s future goals to expand globally on virtual classroom sessions. Shirani Stanislaus,Chief Operating Officer introduced the new lectures, Nirosha Gunasekera from the Visual and Performing Arts University in Colombo, Akila Palipana, from the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka and the new instructors, Nalinda Dilupana, from the Behri Foundation Drums & Dance and Kanishka Gomas, the founding member and dance instructor at Behri Foundation of Dance & Drums.

The program continued with speeches from the current Academy of Performing instructors, Lal Thilakaratna and Umendra Khandawarachchi, who talked about the success of the virtual sessions and showed video clips of the students performances in 2020.

The new lecturers and the two new teachers also had the opportunity to present video’s of their experience and knowledge as well as addressed the audience to say how excited they are to be a part of the Academy.

Sri Lanka Foundation Vice President, Aeshea Jayasinghe inspired everyone from her speech by highlighting areas of importance of working together as a team to achieve success. Keshini Wijegoonaratna, the Director of Project Management & Public Relations, updated the Accreditation Self Study process and explained the credibility of the ACS WASC accrediting agency.

The founder of SLF, Dr Walter Jayasinghe thanked the SLF and the Academy staff for working diligently to bring the foundation to this level and addressed areas for expansion for the future.

The program ended with Achala Weerasinghe, the Director of Operations of the Academy, with a vote of special thanks to the SLF Media Director, Chamodh Amarasinghe for all his hard work by creating the graduation ceremony on a virtual platform, and also thanked everyone for attending.

See attached link to watch the video:

https://youtu.be/ZspOsYI95-s

Video Attached! SLAASC Committee prepares to Present 73rd Independence Day Celebrations!

SLF Interviews SLAASC Committee:

https://youtu.be/LxqK2Gzer40

This is to inform you that the recorded SLAASC 73rd Sri Lanka Independence Day Anniversary Celebration will be live on Facebook and YouTube on Friday, February 19 and Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 7 pm Pacific Time.
Please watch it!
For more information contact:
Shanmuganathan Vaithilingam [Shan]
Secretary
Sri Lanka America Association of Southern California.
Cell: [213] 399 8964
Email: pa2slcg.la@gmail.com
Website: https://www.slaasc.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/slaasc

See link below to watch the video:

https://youtu.be/LxqK2Gzer40

Iconic Singer/Entertainer Desmond De Silva embraces technology to keep his fans spirits up through the pandemic..

With a home studio created, Desmond has continued to entertain his fans through a series of virtual concerts. Created and coordinated by Different Marketing Agency to lift spirits up through the pandemic Desmond has reached many fans, engaging with them in his own inimitable style.

2020 was set to be a packed year for Desmond with engagements here and overseas scheduled in his calendar up to December. Phyllis & Des returned to Sydney after two successive gigs in the UK which had them away and returning just in time to beat travel restrictions.

As the pandemic spread across Europe, the first casualty gigs were the two scheduled in April in Milan & Paris over the Easter season. Flights and venues were cancelled and Des & Phyllis settled into enjoying life at home after years of constant travel.

Des jokes that he now had so much time on his hands that he had resorted to cutting the grass with a pair of scissors!

However, a constant stream of calls from fans around the world desperate for entertainment saw Different Marketing put a program of virtual concerts together which had Desmond in a Studio created at home, putting in the practice and embracing a new way of communicating and entertaining his fans.

‘These concerts are ongoing until this challenging year is out’ says Desmond with planned Christmas specials next month.

‘I am also engaged in laying tracks down for 2 new CDs and am working on a concept created by Different Marketing for an unique concert in Sri Lanka when travel permits. So the enforced travel has provided me with interesting projects that keep me occupied and in touch with my music and my fans’.

The past six years since celebrating his 50 years in music has been increasingly busy. There have been some standout highlights. The Spitfires reunited in 2015 in a “Time is Tight’ tour of Australia. It was an emotional time for the members of the band, Budrin, Hassan, Dalrene, Maxine, Sohan, Felix and Mohan and of course Desmond, got together to practice for a week before the tour. Desmond recalls the 3 weeks fondly as most of the band members were accommodated in his home. Band practice was serious sessions but then fun evenings over drinks and dinners reminiscing on the band’s hey days at Ceylinco were topped with singing and much laughter.

Another highlight was the “Together Again 2018 tour of Australia by Desmond & The Clan. Here again the band members were accommodated with Desmond & Phyllis and music, reminiscing and laughter were the order of the day. Breakfast time had everyone round the table joyously eating a variety of breakfast favourites. Desmond’s speciality was ensuring perfectly cut fresh fruit and a killer Pol Sambol which went well together with the fresh buttered bread rolls bought each day from the Bakery round the corner by Kitta who delighted in a morning stroll to the bakery.

Desmond also recalls the 2 years consecutive Dinner Dances in Nottingham UK hosted by the Dayada Sri Lanka Kidney Foundation. They were both fund raising events that exceeded expectations in guest attendance and the funds that were raised.

An unique event hosted by Suminda Ranatunge for the Sri Lankan community in Dublin, Ireland was another unexpected highlight as many guests had more than a 3 hour drive to attend the event. ‘It was very rewarding to perform to an audience that had made the effort to travel so far and who came to have a good time’ says Desmond. They were not disappointed as Des had them on the dance floor from the moment he got on stage.

Desmond celebrated a significant birthday in 2019 with a concert at the BMICH in Colombo produced by Damayantha Kuruppu. Desmond was keen to use the occasion to lift the spirits of Sri Lankan’s after the Easter Sunday Massacre. This event was special to Desmond as he had the chance to once again perform with Ishan Bahar – the person who inspired him to become a singer.

With the enforced travel restrictions in place there has also been time for quiet reflection. ‘I have had the time to think of the huge body of work I have been fortunate to own. I have had amazingly talented lyric writers who have collaborated with musicians who gave me material to work with and I have been fortunate to amass over 850 Sinhala pop and baila songs. ‘The great Wally Bastian gave me permission to sing his songs…. I felt very humbled’ says Desmond.

‘Arthur Spelderwinde and Derek Cramer were very popular in the late 50’s and 60’s. Derek was so funny and Arthur and Derek were amazingly talented and had the gift of engaging with the audience entertaining them not only in song but also with humour and repartee. They inspired me’.

The Jetliners were popular and the Coconut Grove was the place to be for the popular Sundown Dances. ‘I would watch Ishan Bahar on stage and saw how he had the audience dancing and enjoying his music. I was inspired and thought if he can do it so can I’ says Des.

‘There has been sadness during this time’ says Desmond ‘I said Goodbye to my 95 years old mother who passed away peacefully in Perth’. Due to travel restrictions he and his brother Milroy could not attend her funeral. Desmond is pleased that his mother ‘s 95th birthday celebrations in January 2020 was celebrated over 4 days and it gave the whole family quality time together to celebrate with their mother.

The shock of also having to farewell very close friend and colleague Sandra Jackson with whom he enjoyed singing duets as he says ‘our voices blended so well’. Another heartbreaking shock was the passing away of Hassan Musafer as Desmond says he considered Hassan his little brother. There are fond memories of sharing a room with him during their stint in Bombay as members of the Jetliners. ‘I class Hassan’s drumming as the next best thing to a Metronome’ says Des. We also lost the wonderfully funny and entertaining Ronnie Leitch & the very talented Randy Pieris.

All events scheduled for 2020 have been put on hold due to the restrictions in place and Desmond says that he has regular conversations with Event Organisers around the world and the word is that the party loving Sri Lankans are anxiously awaiting restrictions to be lifted and dinner dances and concerts to be held once again.

Different Marketing Agency has just launched the OFFICIAL Desmond De Silva YouTube channel and Desmond will ensure he uploads new material for the enjoyment of fans.

The world will never forget Christmas 2020. Preparation to celebrate Christmas was undertaken as spirits were dampened as families gatherings were uncertain around the globe. ‘Reaching out to Sri Lankan’s across the globe was something I wanted to do during this difficult Christmas time’ says Desmond. A series of home videos were produced with Desmond singing Christmas favourites to bring the spirit of Christmas back into hearts and homes. The many comments and phone calls received were confirmation that they were timely and well received.

NYE 2020 was extraordinary too as it was the only year Desmond had not been on a stage somewhere bringing in the New Year. This year, a special dinner shared with wife Phyllis, as they watched the Sydney fireworks display was how they welcomed 2021.

I believe we have all grown stronger in all areas of our lives and there is a hopeful promise of a great things ahead.

‘Life has certainly changed…… nothing can be taken for granted. But change brings about innovation and creativity and the entertainment industry will reinvent and thrive once again …. it’s just a matter of time’.

‘Music is the food of Life’!

Virtual Music, Dance & Drama, “Hantana Night” Organized by AAUPOC

Hanthana Night Virtual (ZOOM)
Alumni Association of the University of Peradeniya-Ottawa Chapter (AAUPOC)


Ever since the inception of the Alumni Association of University of Peradeniya-Ottawa Chapter (AAUPOC) in 2012, our premier social gathering to foster the friendship among the members and friends in the Sri Lankan Community has been the annual “Hanthana Night”. Over the past few years, we have been entertaining the participants with a rich Sri Lankan cultural and musical show at the Hanthana Night. Unfortunately, due to the prevailing restrictions for social gatherings, we haven’t been able to host our Hanthana Night in the traditional format this year. However, we are very pleased to announce that the Executive Committee with the dedicated volunteers are organizing a Hanthana Night in the virtual format (ZOOM) with an exciting lineup of performances in spite of the existing constraints.

You are cordially invited to enjoy this event at leisure at your home with your family.

Event: AAUPOC Hanthana Night Virtual
Date/Time: Saturday, 16th of January 2021; 7:00pm (Ottawa, EST); 4:00pm (PST) à onwards
5:30am 17th January (Sri Lanka)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83901326637?pwd=bFZRZEFjTWc4SnpRNGpOV2VRejZXZz09

Meeting ID: 839 0132 6637
Passcode: 128404

Buzz with Danu – Channa Wijewardena

Today on the Buzz, I have an amazing personality who has always been an institution when it comes to class, grace and talent. I have always enjoyed seeing him on stage or seeing his students keeping the craft alive. He has represented Sri Lanka on many stages and always kept our flag flying high. He sure is a gentleman who commands respect and I’m happy to have the amazing Channa on the Buzz today.

What made you make dance your career? First I was into sports and academically I was more into physics. But once I saw Dr Chitrasena on stage who looked like a marble statue, that made the change. And every job I did, I did a couple of jobs, I was attached to the Cultural Ministry and all of that had to do something with dance. I was a project officer on Performing Arts at the Education Ministry as well.

How hard would you say it is to be a dancer? It looks easy but it’s not easy. There’s so much of work- you have to align your body, you need to have flexibility, power, stretching and there are so many exercises, when I say exercises, dance exercises are totally different. Kandyan dance exercises are different, Indian dance exercises are different, hip hop is different, ballet is different etc. It’s really tough, you need to sacrifice a lot. You need to sacrifice time, the food you really like and you need to boost up your energy and so on. So it’s definitely not easy, it is a hard and tough path.

You are a lover of the entertainment industry, do you feel the youth of today understand the value of respecting this skill? Understanding the value of respecting this skill, wow… you can categorise it into two. There’s a certain lot that just go behind money. They are not worried about anything but worried about how much they get. So they are not interested in the spiritual part or anything, it’s just one frame, they get into a costume and go for it. Then the ones who value are from the creative part. They are very spiritual and they respect and understand the value of their career. There’s 60 – 40 percentage. There’s 60 who will value the art and feel the art and will work on the art.



How was school life? And what did you want to be when you were growing up? The YMCA is just next to our house and all the sports were there. And when I was in school I was into basketball, rugby, table tennis, athletics. I just wanted to be a sportsman and I had a lot of sports inspirations senior to me like Nalin de Silva, Nihal Mendis whose in New York and they were my role models and I wanted to be them. But after seeing Dr Chitrasena it just switched off and then came dance.

What do you think Sri Lankan Youth Are missing? RESPECT!!! Respect for each other, when you don’t get respect from someone you don’t respect anyone. Respect whatever you do. Respect your art, home, school, country your city everything. Well, there are two parts of mankind, there’s good and there’s bad. Bad ones are the ones who pollute and kills nature and etc. so basically, if we have less bad and more good I’m sure this will be a better place.

What has been your favourite travel destination and why? I would say Europe because there are so many countries around. The paintings, sculptures and so many beautiful places like Venice and all that. I would love to say India as well and Japan also. But first, it’s the whole of Europe, then India, then Japan.

Describe your day at work? I focus on my work on the previous day and I live with that. Early morning I starting jotting out things about what I do, and then the main thing is training my dancers. I start at around 10:30 and it will go on till 3:00 and then I take a little break maybe a small nap. Then do a couple of readings surf the internet, work more on that, then comes the television. Then I go out in the evening, come back and work more again. Oh, I forgot I also do my exercises in the morning.



Today with social media, many have become dancers and even choreographers. What are your thoughts on it? Half of what we see in social media is fake. I’ll just give you an example, you see yourself in the mirror and you expect that same visual on a photograph but remember the Mirror is a reflection and a photograph is different. So because we want the exact reflection we saw on the mirror in a photograph as well we start changing different angles and filtering it. So just like that the content they put on social media is half filtered and fake. When we take dance movements, they just copy something and they try to become popular, they try to get more views, likes and comments, but they are not artists. Artistes are full of beauty, classical, creativity and spirituality.

What kind of legacy do you want to be remembered for? Channa just Channa!

What did Covid19 teach you? It helped me to start finding myself and helped me to teach my students and everyone to find themselves because there’s so much time. They started living with themselves, having homemade food, doing everything at home, planting trees and everything became very very Sri Lankan and Sri Lankan products started coming out and I even started choreographing in different ways because it was done virtually.

Most memorable moment on stage? The ballet Karadiya. That was the dream and I think that’s a dream a lot of people dream about and it’s a wonderful ballet. So it was a day where I had to practise so much and it was under my sleeve I could do anything in Karadiya because I practised so much. So then suddenly my guru Vajira Chithrasena told me “Channa you will be playing only the last scene” I said ok, I said ok because I rehearsed and practised the full ballet altogether. So I was asked to do only the last scene which was about 10 minutes. I was not disappointed at all and I started working on the last scene because there were a lot of leaps in that scene with rain and lightning and then we fell and a song came in the end. Just before the act started Dr Chithrasena came and told me “Channa, play Sumeda’s character”. Sumeda is the main character who dies, so I had to play only that. I only had to leap around in the dark and drop dead, I didn’t even have the song to do. But still, that woke me up and that’s how it worked.



Most embarrassing moment on stage that you remember every day? Woah…. It was Kinkini Kolama. Normally during the break, dancers have their lunch and one of our drummers had his lunch and kept the leftovers in the sink. Then I was wearing a Nilame’s costume, I was one of the three Nilame’s. You normally put paper inside to make the sleeve look big in the costume. So I took the paper in the sink and went out it in and I have accidentally put the paper with all the leftover food and there were so many ants..so I was so embarrassed to be on stage because all the ants were coming down my hand and I was bitten by ants and my whole arm was swollen and you know it’s not easy to perform when you’ve been bitten by ants and you’re swollen and you know what’s happening inside the sleeve and not forgetting the bad smell. It smelled so terrible, I realised that none of the dancers came close to me during the whole ballet.

You have worked with many actors and singers, who is your favourite when it comes to their dance moves? Well, I can say it’s Sangeetha Weerarathne. She understands what dance is and she has a degree in classical ballet and she has learnt dancing under me and she is very easy to work with. She’s also very creative and she helps me a lot in my creations.

for more information go to:http://www.dailymirror.lk

Georgia wins Junior MasterChef Australia 2020 with her Sri Lankan feast

Sri Lankans around the world celebrated the epic win of Georgia who clinched the title of Junior Masterchef Australia 2020 which concluded on Monday and aired on Network 10.

Georgia whose maternal grandmother Charmaine hails from Sri Lanka is cited as a major influence on Georgia’s culinary leanings. Beating off stiff competition from 13 other contestants aged just 9-14 years, Georgia won a cash prize of AUS $25,000.

Each week Geogia remained calm and collected as she whipped up dish after dish of great cuisine which had the judges heaping praise on her. Tasting her coconut flatbread and potato curries the judges praised her ability to cook curry while mainating a perfect balance of spices.

Without hesitation Georgia credited her grandmother for teaching her all the elements of Sri Lankan cooking. In the final battle, Georgia’s culinary offering comprised pork curry, cashew curry, eggplant curry, plus yellow rice, pappadums and cucumber raita for her main. She followed it by a dessert, which she named ‘Tropical Mess’ which had five elements: toasted coconut ice cream, brown bread crumb, Davidson plum pearls, Davidson plum meringues and a lemongrass granita.

After winning, Georgia said she’s not too sure what she’ll do with the $25,000 prize money, but she will definitely use it for something fun and food-related.

A Maiden’s Prayer — New novel examines 1970’s Sri Lanka

Srianthi Perera, a Sri Lankan-American journalist residing in Arizona, has just published an entertaining and insightful literary novel.

A Maiden’s Prayer: A Family Story Set in 1970s Sri Lanka examines Sri Lankan beliefs in the power of astrology and the role an individual’s character plays in precipitating his destiny.

The story unfolds between the years 1973-77. It centers upon an extended family trying to marry off a well-to-do male relative, Berty Rajakaruna, a charming and successful engineer. Berty debates whether marriage is a worthwhile price to pay in order to reclaim the Mudaliyar family estate he inherited from the clutches of his scheming sister. He has a lucrative job in the Middle East, and endears himself to the family as he uses his wealth to help those less-fortunate among them.

The novel is humorously narrated by Tamara, a teenage member of the family who herself is navigating a tricky path from childhood to adulthood. Her narrative voice injects warmth and wit into the story she tells about her uncle, who spurns a traditional, arranged marriage and subsequently meets his destiny.

A Maiden’s Prayer is a nostalgic time capsule for those who grew up during this period. Expatriate Sri Lankan men may remember standing in breadlines in the wee hours of the morning, crashing into girls’ schools waving flags during Big Match times, and holding animated conversations with friends over endless glasses of arrack, which were tempered by the moderating influence of omelets and devilled fish “bites.” Women may reminisce about the traditions and rituals in which they participated when they came of age, about facing shortages of food ingredients that challenged them to make eggless cakes and kohila cutlets and about the wonderful spend-the-days with relatives. The story’s other themes include matchmakers, who were fading from the scene at the time, the turbulent political climate and Buddhism and its rituals.

“The story also helps young, second-generation immigrants growing up in a Western culture to understand their parents’ upbringing in the Motherland,” Perera said. “The novel is appealing and suitable for teenagers—ages 16 and above—and young adults of Sri Lankan origin.”

Perera, who attended Bishop’s College, Colombo, received a Bachelor of Arts as an external student from Peradeniya University with English Literature as a main subject. She has enjoyed a lifelong career in journalism in Sri Lanka, the Sultanate of Oman, Canada and the USA. Her first job in journalism was as a stringer at the Sunday Observer.

She lives in Chandler, Arizona, with her husband. This is her debut novel.

Details: https://tinyurl.com/A-Maidens-Prayer
Website: srianthiperera.com
Email: evocativejourneys@gmail.com

The Big Screen: ‘VIKAARI’ becomes first Sri Lankan film to premier at LA Screamfest

Colombo (News 1st); ‘VIKAARI’, a Sri Lankan short film by Sandun Seneviratne and British Filmmaker Charlie Bray was selected to be screened in competition later his year at the Screamfest Horror Film Festival, one of the worlds biggest genre festivals.

‘VIKAARI’ becomes the first Sri Lankan film to be selected by Screamfest, placing it in legendary company with horror sensations such as ‘Paranormal Activity’ and ‘The Grudge’ which made their premiers in previous years.

Often referred to as ‘The Sundance of Horror’, legendary directors such as Clive Barker, Wes Craven, and John Carpenter sit on the advisory board while the coveted trophy was designed by the late Stan Winston, master of special effects on many classic Hollywood movies.

‘VIKAARI’ features Sri Lankan stars Ashan Dias, Bimsara Premaratne, and British actor Richard Dee Roberts.

Revolving around the widespread birth of babies with similar deformities, the movie follows the ensuing worldwide panic. The children, nicknamed Vikaari, all share a remarkable set of characteristics and may even possess, paranormal abilities.

Sandun Seneviratne who also wrote and directed Sri Lanka’s first big-budget sci-fi web series ‘Seer: Death Sight’ says he aims to produce Hollywood inspired sci-fi genre films in Sri Lanka that can compete in the international market in terms of storytelling and production value.