The Sri Lanka Youth Dance Troupe has an esteemed group of experienced teachers and contributors who are committed to the troupe's authenticity and success.
Read below to learn more about our teachers and their achievements.
Rukmal Gunasekara - Founder
Rukmal Gunasekara is a Dancer with over 45 years of experience. She has performed at various events in Sri Lanka, USA and Canada over the years. She founded the
Sri Lanka Youth Dance Troupe in 1998 and is responsible for training, choreography, costume design, coordination and presentation of programs.
Some of her achievements include:
- Choreographing and training several children from the Sri Lankan community in Washington, DC, USA to participate in the first annual
cultural show to be produced by the Sri Lanka Association of Washington DC. .
- Joining the Sri Lanka Women’s Dance Troupe of New York as a member and becoming the co-ordinator for Washington DC.
- Coordinating and performing at the film and dance festival held by the Asia Museum of the Smithsonian Institution at the end of the "Golden Age" Sculpture
Exhibition on Sri Lanka held by the Museum.
- Organizing and coordinating the presentation of "Lanka Ranga", a 19 part dance performance with three premiere visiting artists from Sri Lanka.
The presentations were sponsored by the Museum of Nature of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, Sri Lanka Women’s Dance Troupe in New York
and the Sri Lanka Association of Farmington, in Michigan. Presented the Smithsonian performance to the public and was the Stage Manager for all
- Coordinating with the federal agencies such as the Department of Justice, Department of Defence, Federal Reserve Board etc. for the annual Asia Pacific
Celebrations to bring an awareness of the Sri Lankan dace forms.
- Appointed as the President of the National Women’s Dance Troupe of Sri Lanka.
- Coordinating another tour and presenting "Lanka Ranga II" with seven visiting artists with major performances in Washington DC, New York and Boston.
Read an article published in the Sri Lankan newspaper "Tharuni" about Rukmal and one of her students, Upeksha.
Piyasara Shilpadhipathi - Teacher
Piyasara Shilpadhipathi, who teaches at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies of the University of Kelaniya, is an exceptional presence in the field of
traditional dance and music in Sri Lanka. He is both a brilliant exponent of the conventional drum music of the Sinhala people and an innovative spirit
seeking to link the traditional with the modern. We here at
the Sri Lanka Youth Dance Troupe have been fortunate enough to have him as a teacher, choreographer and a music composer.
Read an article written by our Founder Rukmal Gunasekara about Piyasara Shilpadhipathi.
Hailing from a family reputed for its traditional expertise. Piyasara Shilpadhipathi draws sustenance from the wealth of musical learning acquired from his
elders. A master of the art of percussion music, he has developed a broad creative vision that transcends confining boundaries, his gifts and capacities
match this vision. He has delighted audiences in more than 30 countries and given classes at such institutions as the Royal College of Music in London.
He has occasionally fused his talents with those of practitioners of other forms of music opening new vistas for indigenous music in Sri Lanka.
Some highlights of Piyasara Shilpadhipathi's career:
- Founded the Piyasra-Kanthi School of Dance with wife Kanthi, which accommodates 800 students at present. The school helps prepare the
students for the subject of dancing at G.C.E. (O/L) national exam, has an annual cultural performance, and participate in the national TV
dance and documentary programs.
- Appointed by the President of Sri Lanka in 1998 to train the Western Colombo Regional Dance Troupe, as a state dance troupe to represent Sri Lanka
abroad. The dance troupe has since toured USA and Germany.
- Involved in the Sri Lanka Rupavahini (TV) Corporation in producing documentary programs on dancing and choreography of dance items for television.
- Created a new drum called, "Gavula", which is a combination of "Geta Bera", used in the upcountry form of dance and "Davula", which is used in the
South-Central dance form. The new drum combines the sounds of both the drums in one. The use and the creation of this drum was highly publicized in Sri
- Worked with other leading artists, both from Sri Lanka and abroad on various projects, especially combining the traditional drums with western musical
instruments, such as the piano, violin and cello.
- National Award "Kalasuri" conferred by the President of Sri Lanka for the representation and promotion of dances of Sri Lanka in other countries.
- The title "Deshiya Narthanadhari Keerthi Sri" was awarded by the President of Sri Lanka, in recognition of his service to the nation in 2003.
Ravibandhu Vidyapathi - Teacher
Ravibandhu hails from a long line of traditional dancers and temple painters. His father is Somabandhu Vidyapathy, the pioneer designer for dance theatre, both theatre sets and costumes, and a renowned temple painter.
In 1981, Ravibandhu had his traditional graduation at the Chitrasena School, where he studied Classical Kandyan dance under the legendary dancers Chitrasena and Vajira and drumming under the renowned Piyasara Shilpadhipathi and Punchiguro.
In 1984, Ravibandhu, alongside his wife Samanthi – a well known dancer, opened their own dance school, the Ravibandhu-Samanthi Dance School.
Currently, he is the Artistic Director of the Sri Lanka State Dance Ensemble and does choreography for the Sri Lanka Youth Dance Troupe. Ravibandhu's wife Samanthi also helps choreography and costumes for the Sri Lanka Youth Dance Troupe.
Kanthi Shilpadhipathi - Folk Singer and Lyricist
Kanthi Shilpadhipathi is the wife of Piyasara Shilpadhipathi. She is a talented musician who lends her voice and lyrics to
the Dance Troupe's performances
Kanthi is a dancer and singer who has been given Super – Grade artist rating in folk music by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation a
graduate of the Institute of Aesthetic Studies of the University of Kelaniya, her talents were recognized while she was still a student in school, she won
first prize in an all Island folk music competition a teacher of dance since 1978. She is endowed with a vibrant singing voice. She has traveled widely with
her husband Piyasara Shilpadhipathi and with leading Sri Lankan groups and demonstrated her outstanding abilities in both Kandyan dance and folk song.
Madhavi Shilpadhipathi - Singer
Madhavi Shilpadhipathi is the talented daughter of Piyasara Shilpadhipathi who contributes her musical talents to the Sri Lanka Youth Dance Troupe. She works
as a teacher of dancing, drumming and folk music at the Piyasara-Kanthi School of Dance. She has her own published CD of Sri Lankan music (pictured).
Some of her other achievements include:
- Performing at the International garden festival in Scotland and in UK
- Performing at the International festival of masks in USA
- Performing, conducting workshops and lecturing at universities and various cities in the USA
- Performing within Sri Lanka and other countries as a member of Piyasara-Kanthi Dance Ensemble during the past 15 years.
Karunarathna Bandara - Drummer
Karunarathna Bandara is a talented drummer who contributes his talents to the Sri Lanka Youth Dance Troupe.
Some of his past performances and achievements include:
- Drummer and Creative Artist in productions of Prof. Sarathchandra, who produced "Mahasara", "Sinhabahu", "Maname", etc. (renowned stage dramas in Sri Lanka)
- Drummer for dance baler productions in association with the Chitrasena School of Dance, who produced, Karadiya, Kinkini Kolama, etc.
- Major roles in the productions of dance and music Director, W.B. Makuloluwa.
- Drummer and Creative Artist Tower Hall Theatre Foundation.
- Creative Artist in "Liberation Bears" and English drama produced by Prof. Rudi Conrans, from the British Council.
- Performed at the Asian Traditional Dance/Music Festival, Tokyo, Japan
- Part of the Tour of India with Chitrasena Dance Troupe
- Performances in Paris, Washington D.C. (the Smithsonian), Germany, Norway and Canada
Prasanna Rupatillake - Drummer
Prasanna Rupatillake is a talented drummer who lends his talents to the Sri Lanka Youth Dance Troupe.
Some of his achievements and past performances include:
- Being a member of the State Dance Ensemble of Sri Lanka
- Starting the "Prasanna Roo Dance Group" in 2000
- Serving as a Performing Artiste in the International Peace Foundation.
- Being a member of the Orchestra of the Sri Lanka Board Casting Corporation.
- Performing regularly over the past 25 years as a drummer and dancer with such prestigious Ensembles such as Chithrasena and Vajira, Kulasiri Budwatta,
Piyasra Shilpadipathi, Sandoris Jayantha and Ravibandhu Vidyapathi, often joining them on tours all over the world.
- Representing Sri Lanka in France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, Singapore, China, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Belgium, Hong Kong, The Middle East,
Switzerland, Norway and Taiwan at many world Dance Festivals.
- Participating as the Lead Drummer with Upeka and the Chithrasena Dance Ensemble at "Théâtre Du Doleil Paris" at the festival of Asian Arts, invited by Madam Ariane Mnouchkine.