Celebrating our national days together

From left: Seyara Surendra, 11, Nethlni Parangama, 9, and Nethara Lamahewa, 10 get ready for dance practice at the Sri ...
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From left: Seyara Surendra, 11, Nethlni Parangama, 9, and Nethara Lamahewa, 10 get ready for dance practice at the Sri Lankan Dance Academy.

A troupe of Sri Lankan dancers is ramping up  rehearsals ahead of a Waitangi Weekend performance.  

Students at the Sri Lankan Dance Academy  will perform a piece celebrating New Zealand and Sri Lanka culture.

Celebrations is being held  at the Little Theatre at the Dowse on February 4 which is also  the Sri Lankan independence day.  

Dancers at the Sri Lankan Dance Academy rehearse for  their performance at the Little Theatre in Lower Hutt.
Eleanor Wenman

Dancers at the Sri Lankan Dance Academy rehearse for their performance at the Little Theatre in Lower Hutt.

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"We can celebrate together," artistic director Mohan Sudusinghe said.

About 50 Sri Lankan dancers from around Wellington will perform traditional and contemporary cultural dances.

They have been practicing year round but getting back into it after the New Year break was always a challenge.

The dancers range in age from five to over 20 but dancing isn't the only entertainment in store.

"We have invited other groups - singing groups, New Zealand Friendship Society, like that – to give speeches and perform," Sudusinghe said.

Maori artists had also been invited to sing, in a concert that would blend the two cultures.

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The performance was being put on with the help of Hutt City Council and volunteers from the community. Parents of the performers had really stepped up to help out.

"They give big support. Without them I couldn't do this," Sudusinghe said.

Some parents were learning stage management tricks to help out with lighting and direction while others were lending a hand with costumes, finding and making accessories to go with the outfits.

Sudusinghe taught dance in Sri Lanka and ran his own dance school before moving to New Zealand in 2011.

Teaching dance to children here helped keep them in touch with their cultural roots. 

"I came here to give that flavour and culture to the kids."

Celebrations would l explore similarities and differences between New Zealand and Sri Lankan cultures and look at how traditions had developed over the years.

*Celebrations will be held at 6.30pm, February 4 at the Little Theatre, Lower Hutt. Tickets $10 for adults and $5 for children. Contact Neluka 027 522 6694

 - Stuff

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