Celebrating Role Models – Day 14

Professional Traditional Dancer, THAJITHANGANI DIAS

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I began dancing at the age of six under my aunt Anjalika at my grandparents’ dance school.  From that age on I have always been certain that I wanted to become a dancer and nothing else. My father, with his vibrant sports background, tried very hard to get me involved in a few sports. He succeeded with my sister but not with me. My interests were always towards Drama, Singing and Dancing. I am sure it was very frustrating for him at first, but I know he is the proudest of them all about what I have achieved so far. Even as a child I remember always being called on to demonstrate movements to the senior classes and also always wanting to “fill in the blanks” at rehearsals when a production was on and someone got absent. I have grown up watching my aunts, mother, sister and cousins dance. None of us were ever forced into dancing – we were born into it. We lived and breathed it everyday of our lives, and I am not complaining. I consider myself unbelievably lucky to have been born into this family and to know that I wouldn’t have wanted my life to be any other way. As I became a member of the Dance Company I started following classes under my aunt Upeka. Since then until today she has been the pillar of strength behind me, training me and bringing out the best in me. She danced like fire on stage, lighting up the space, and she has always been the dancer that I have aspired to be like.

We are a huge family of strong headed women carrying on a dance form that was once only performed by males. My grandmother Vajira was the first professional female Kandyan dancer in Sri Lanka. After her, my aunt Upeka continued to sustain the legacy of my grandparents, and today I carry it on as the principal dancer of the Dance Company with the support of my cousin Heshma ( Choreographer/Dancer of the Dance Company) and my sister Umi (Administrator/Manager) . I can proudly say that the Kandyan dance form has remained unharmed and untarnished within the Chitrasena Dance Company / family for three generations! It takes a whole lifetime to master one art form so I feel it is important to learn one dance form to perfection before experimenting within it or learning a new one. The base of my grandparents’ work is the Kandyan dance form which is where our hearts linger and which is what we have perfected and continue to perfect throughout our lives. I also believe it is the humility, gratitude and respect we have for our teachers that has lead us to where we are now.
Right now I am on tour with the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble of India. We are part of a collaboration that is currently touring the US. It is  a life-long dream that has become a reality for me. Meeting great icons of the dance-world, performing at prestigious venues, traveling,  seeing places and, most of all, dancing on the same stage with some of the best dancers in the world is more than I could even have dreamt of experiencing so early in my career. This tour has also become a learning process for me. As dancers, we learn all the time – through each rehearsal, through each performance – but this tour has really put my survival instincts to the test. I am not just performing, but learning to live life to the fullest! Dancing is not just a physical activity for me anymore, it is mentally and spiritually stimulating and gives me the opportunity to bond with higher ‘energies’. It has become my religion, my race, my nationality and my life.
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One response to “Celebrating Role Models – Day 14

  • Asha

    This is an beautifully eclectic mix of some amazing Sri Lankan women! I would love to meet everyone of you some day….we can then come together to discuss our happiness and hardships….and share strength. I salute you all!

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