Performing Respectability: The Beravā, Middle-Class Nationalism, and the Classicization of Kandyan Dance in Sri Lanka

Excerpt From Essay

"Among the traditional Kandyan dancers of Sri Lanka, a story circulates about the son of Nittawela Gunaya, the nation's most renowned traditional dancer of the 1940s and 1950s. After Gunaya's death, it is said, the son destroyed all evidence of his father's profession, even burning, in an act of desecration, his most prized possession, the sacred ves headdress that had been conferred on Gunaya at his initiation ceremony. Dancers recount this story to illustrate the shame and the suffering that even the most publicly esteemed of traditional dancers have experienced for more than 50 years. For even as their aesthetic legacy, the Kandyan dance, has been elevated as a national symbol of Sri Lanka, the traditional dancers and their families have increasingly become marginalized within the sphere of national public culture. At least, this is part of the story."

"Performing Respectability: The Beravā, Middle-Class Nationalism, and the Classicization of Kandyan Dance in Sri Lanka," Susan A. Reed (246).

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