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Dancing from Ceylon

Ceylon National Dancers

Year: 1962, 27 mins
Code: CAT-Cey

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A program of Ceylonese dances, each with an explanation by T.P. Amerasinghe, dance authority from Sri Lanka. Introduction by Lucia Chase of Amercian Ballet Theatre. Performances are by the Ceylon National Dancers. The dances are of ancient heritage: the fire dance, cobra dance, mask dance, harvest dance, a dance of exorcism, the butterfly dance, and the ritual dance Ves Natuma, which was originally the prelude to a sacrifice.

Since its founding, Asia Society has regularly sought to facilitate greater engagement between East and West by sponsoring cultural performances in the United States by Asian performing artists. One of the earliest such events was in 1958, when Asia Society brought the Ceylon National Dancers (pictured above) to New York. The music and dance troupe, based in Sri Lanka (which was known by its British colonial name of Ceylon until independence in 1948), had been established in 1946 and toured widely in Asia, but this marked its first American visit. They performed their signature religious and ceremonial routines that encompassed Kandyan dances from northern Sri Lanka and fire dances from the south.

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