For anyone who is searching for the roots of Sri Lankan art history and culture, the traditional indigenous dance is something that is not easily forgettable. At the same time, the few idols who have contributed to heralding that tradition for generations, are indelible. Mr. Kulasiri Budawatta, who recently passed away leaving a huge void in the tapestry of art, was one of such rare senior performing artists who excelled in classical dance traditions of the country.
Kulasiri Budawatta was born on 6th May 1950 and was 71 years old when he breathed his last on the 23rd June 2021 due to serious health ailments that he was suffering from, for a long period of time.
As a great veteran dancer, who was well-known for his iconographic and pioneering choreography, Budawatta has marked a legendary position in both the Kandyan and Low Country dance traditions. Taking up dancing at a very young age, he managed to develop a unique style that made him a famous cultural icon. Born with the inheritance, he began dance lessons in early childhood and got expertise in traditions where he developed his own natural style. At the age of fifteen, he started to teach dancing and remained a gifted and committed teacher throughout his life. Further, he is considered an extraordinary person who possessed a very individualistic view on teaching, which has essentially driven him to success.
In his professional life, Budawatta has visited overseas multiple times and his exposure as a cultural icon was well recognized and referenced by the media. Also, he was assigned as the dance director of the foremost dance troupe at the National Youth Center in Maharagama, where his choreography highlighted the existence of both classic dance derivatives and a unique separation from the cultural norm of rigid tradition. Moreover, this pioneering figure was the founder of the Budawatta School of Performing Arts, which is regarded as a famous aesthetic institute in the country, specializing students in Sri Lankan traditional and modern dancing. This institute was established with the aim of opening up doors for new styles and creative ideas of experienced dancers while guiding the students to become successful professionals in the field.
The Budawatta Dance Troupe’s iconographic performances are conceived with his imagination and choreography. And since 1959, the troupe has been performing professionally with the vision of promoting the exotic local dances of Sri Lanka, differentiating themselves from other dance troupes, leveraging on the knowledge of traditional Sri Lankan classical and folk dance fused with all kinds of Indian and contemporary dance styles as well. Those outstanding and wonderful performances have not only won the hearts of the audiences but also facilitated the diplomatic relations between many countries and their cultures, maintaining a high profile across the borders and enhancing the glory of Sri Lankan cultural heritages.
Being renowned universally as an immense illustration of what a combination of hard work and raw talent can allocate one to accomplish, Mr. Kulasiri Budawatta is undoubtedly a genius to be hailed forever. Even though he is no more among us, it is quite obvious that the invincible saga proceeded by this brilliant artist will continue to offer an insight into the vibrant culture of Sri Lanka, which has been handed down over the generations. The demise of this exceptional veteran dancer is an ineffable loss to the nation and we, in Colombo Beacon convey our heartfelt condolences on this occasion. May he attain Supreme Bliss of Nibbana!!
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