Rite redesigned | Daily News


Rite redesigned

The large handkerchief lying on the middle links them all. The figures, four in number, are seated in two rows facing each other albeit gazing off into the distance. The figures are connected to each other in a diverse, yet unique, manner. While Othello and Iago sit straight in one row with their back to the audience, their partners, Desdemona and Emilia sit facing the audience.

Sri Lanka’s audience is well attuned to that name, Othello, though yet to experience Ravibandu Vidyapathy’s ballet interpretation of the Shakespearean tragedy. Listed as one ballet of a five-day performance organized by the Ravibandu – Samanthi Dance Ensemble, Othello exhibits Ravibandu Vidyapathy’s eye for finer details. The hairstyles of Emilia and Desdemona are adjusted to suit their class and the creed. Lipstick is adequately used on Desdemona while such makeup is absent on Emilia to enhance the difference of their personalities.

A national manifestation of contemporary art, Ravibandu Vidyapathy’s latest choreographic effort, an ensemble of five ballet productions, Mudra, will be held from August 20 to 24 at the Lionel Wendt Theatre at 7 pm with the participation of over 200 performing artistes. The festival is held with the aim of promoting and raising awareness of the dance enthusiasts and reviving the modern dance which carries a history of over seven decades to enlighten and encourage the contemporary and future generations.

Mudra festival of dance and oriental ballet celebrates the art of movement and rhythm. The festival will be a glamorous and colourful journey through the world of dance and drums celebrating the work of Sri Lanka’s master drummer and groundbreaking choreographer, Ravibandu Vidyapathy. The five-day festival will be a rare occasion as the audience will experience an eclectic range of dance and music such as traditional, modern and contemporary choreography, oriental ballet and the dynamic rhythms of Sri Lankan drums.

“The modernism of Sri Lankan dance started in the 1940s and reached its zenith in the 1960s. It is now gradually fading off in the mists of commercialisation. Today, there is a dearth of serious or classical dance in the country. This is despite the fact that there is a considerable steam of dance admirers eagerly waiting to witness the traditional, modern or contemporary dance performances,” Ravibandu noted.

The fervent attempt of Ravibandu and co is quenching the thirst of this cluster of the dance enthusiasts in order to revive the modern dance. Since their inception in 1982, the Ravibandu – Samanthi Dance Ensemble has built up an enviable reputation for innovation and creative work.

Their unrivalled reputation for the distinctive style of performance and committed ensemble playing was praised the world over. Their performances over two and half decades in some of the world’s prestigious theatres and art venues namely Kennedy Centre, Korea National Theatre, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the WOMAD Music Festivals have won the much public accolade.

“The sincerity and excitement of the performer’s physical presence are what matters seriously for us. The next important step is the unison between the dancer and the audience. We try our best to deal with that subtle sphere of emotion and imagination,” Vidyapathy noted.

Ravibandu Vidyapathy is a leading choreographer and dancer in the field of traditional Kandyan dance and oriental ballet. Over the last 35 years, he has produced more than 20 full-length ballets and a number of dance productions.

He developed the traditional drumming into an independent concert art and his contribution to the upliftment of the art of short ballet has been nationally recognized. He is the artistic director and choreographer of the State Dance Ensemble as well.


Festival at a glance

The Rite of Spring

The Rite of Spring is a ballet and orchestral concert work by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was written for the 1913 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes company; the original choreography was by Vaslav Nijinsky with stage designs and costumes by Nicholas Roerich. When first performed, the avant-garde nature of the music and choreography caused a sensation and a near-riot in the audience. Although designed as a work for the stage, with specific passages accompanying characters and action, the music achieved equal if not greater recognition as a concert piece and is widely considered to be one of the most influential musical works of the 20th century. Vidyapathy’s rendering is based on the original composition.


The Shakespearean tragedy dramatises the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake. Of all the plays that Shakespeare wrote during the reign of James I, who was a patron of Shakespeare’s acting company, Macbeth most clearly reflects the playwright’s relationship with his sovereign. Professor Pradeep Ratnayake has composed music to Vidyapathy’s ballet interpretation of the tragedy.

Bahu Ranga

An ensemble of national as well as international drums and music traditions, this will be a novel experience to the local audience.


A dance combination of upcountry, low country and Sabaragamu dance traditions, this presentation portrays the gradual evolution of Sri Lanka’s dance.


A tragedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1603, the story revolves around its two central characters: Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army and his unfaithful ensign, Iago. Given its varied and enduring themes of racism, love, jealousy, betrayal, revenge and repentance, Othello is still often performed in professional and community theatre alike and has been the source for numerous operatic, film and literary adaptations. Jithendra Vidyapathy has composed music to Ravibandu’s ballet interpretation. 

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