Kandyan dancing comes to you from the salubrious climes of the Kandyan Kingdom in Kandy. An old dance form, of ancient times belonging to the Kings and Queens that ruled this island with pride. To hear those drummers beat the drums and the dancers dance to the rhythm, with their mesmerizing spins and pivots of Kandyan dancers is a sight that will make you feel awed at this age-old custom dance form that belongs to Sri Lanka its heritage and culture. That is quintessential and part and parcel of the Sri Lankan way of life.
This art of dance, originating since ancient times when the dancers would dance to Sinhala cultural music of the beat of drums, flutes and chant old songs. These were basically seen in villages, at festivals, and specific rituals where these dance forms were performed. It was also very much in the upcountry Kandyan Kingdom of the King’s palace to entertain the King and bring blessings upon him and his people governing the country.
Today it is still a trendy dance and performed every year at the annual Esela Perahera which is a procession carrying the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. This pageant that travels along the streets of Kandy with elephants, dancers, drummers, and flautists and, singers perform and take part in the event. These dancers are also seen dancing at the Temple of the Tooth when the occasion arises, or most often you can see them perform when some foreign dignitary visits the palace.
Kandyan Dancing performance
This dance performance began somewhere BC starting with our Buddhist rituals and during the time that Buddhism was brought to Ceylon. Some steps of the dance art may have also originated from neighbouring India. Gradually these dancers and their dancing techniques became famous over the years. In the early days, these forms of dance were taught by their teachers and were handed down from generation to generation.
Kandyan dancing is also seen at its best at local village weddings and in hotels, opening ceremonies and the likes, and exceptional cultural centres. So if you are in Kandy, there are exclusive cultural shows that you can go and view and book for a show in the afternoon or evening. It is a magnificent sight to observe.
At this time; school children are taught the art of this dance practice. They have to first start from the very beginning. Students have to learn 18 of the dance techniques or its basics. While you learn to stand with feet and legs apart, this allows the dancer to move freely by jumping, and pivoting, and somersaulting, which is characteristic of the Kandyan dance moves.
The Dance costume
The costume of a dancer is very simple but very elegant and beautiful. It consists of a cloth which is wound around the person in such a way that it looks like a loose pair of trousers. The upper body is kept bare and sometimes adorned with silver metallic wear, and decorated with silver beads and shells on the ankles to make that lovely musical sound when the dancer begins to dance. The headgear is of an enormous silver cone-shaped tiara with hanging leaves on it. Hands are also adorned with various silverware like an armlet etc.
So if you are in the Kandy town, it is easy for you to go up the Wales Park hill and find your way to the Cultural Center. Here there are daily performances of the Kandyan dance, for which tickets could be bought at the time of show or online purchase.