Sri Lanka has a rich dande comprising three main schools: Kandyan, Kolam (masked Dance Drama) and Devil Dancing. If you go to Kandy you'll certainly have the opportunity to witness Kandyan dance performances - a riot of movement, colour and sparkles fed by the arthythmic pounding of drums. Kolam is a series of dance-theatre pieces exploring the themes of everyday life, while devil dancing is performed to exorcise evil spirit. You're most likely to see kolam and devil dancing at Ambalangoda.Kandyan Dance
This Dance form flouished under the Kandyan Kingd and is today considered the national dance of Sri Lanka. There are four types: pantheru, naiyaki, udekki and ves. In addition there are 18 vannamas (representation in Dance of animal and bidrs). These includesthe gajaga vannama (elephant) and the mayura vannma (peacock). The Ramayana has provided plenty of material for the dances, especially Rama's dash to Lanka to save Sita, aided by the loyal Hanuman, but over the centuries other stories have been absorbed, including thoses about kings and heroes. Under the Kandyan kings, the dance became an integral part of the great Kandy Esala Perahera.
There are four folk-drama forms:kolam,sokari, nadagan and pasu. Best known is the kolam (Tamil for costume or guise). Kolam has many characters - one estimate puts them at 53 - many of which are grotesque, with exaggerated deformities. These are the demons, who may have a cobra emerging from one nostril, bulging eyes or tusks.
Performance are traditionally held at the New Year, over a period of thress to five nights. Included in the coast of performersare singers, two drummers and a master of ceremonies. The Whole thing kicks off with songs in praise of the Buddha. The master of ceremonies. The whole thing kicks off with songs in praise of the Buddha. The master of ceremonies then explains how the kolam began (an including king's wife had carving while pregnant to see a masked dance-drama).
Traditionally, devil dancing is performed to free a person from demons, evil spirits or just plain bad luck caused by malignant spirit. The devil dancers themselves belong to a low-caste community and specialise in this art form.
There are many types of devil dance. One, the sanni yakku, is performed to exorcise the disease demon. The demon is represented by a range of characters including a pregnant woman and a mother. Other ances include the kohomba kankariya, which is performed to ensure prosperity, and the bali, which is performed for the benifit of havenit beings.