A colourful evening of contemporary dance – nATFEST 2018

The fourth edition of nATFEST, the nATANDA International Festival was held on 10 and 11 November at the British School Auditorium. Sponsored by Mercedes Benz, this was a wonderful occasion bringing together fans and loved ones.

nATANDA is the first contemporary dance company based in Colombo, founded in 2002 as a non-profit organisation by Kapila Palihawadana, who trained in Germany for Modern Dance.

The nATANDA dance troupe is trained in modern and classical Sri Lankan dance, showcasing their work in Sri Lanka, Thailand, South Korea, USA, The Netherlands, India and UK. nATANDA has also conducted dance workshops for over 2,500 young people so far.

By pushing the boundaries of dance theatre, looking beyond form, physicality, culture and geography, to richly and vibrantly portray aspects of life and nature.

The event started with a beautiful inauguration dance performed by the members of the nATANDA Dance Theatre of Sri Lanka. A welcome address was made by the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey, Tunca Ozcuhadar followed by a few inspirational words from the founder and Artistic Director of nATFEST Sri Lanka, Kaplila Palihawadana.

The show featured two acts, namely ‘Wahala’; choreographed by Kapila Palihawadana and performed by the senior dancers of nATFEST and “SangHawa”; this was a guest performance choreographed by Ery Mefri and performed by the Nan Jombang Dance Company 2010.

‘Wahala’: ‘Wahala’ was an artistic, intriguing and captivating performance that portrayed the suffering, pain and anguish undergone by anyone who has experienced slavery of any form.

It aimed to depict a range of emotions that accompanies the denial of one’s freedom. The costumes, the movements and the lighting were effectively used to depict an animated yet painful story; it was a truly unique and remarkable performance.

The dancers of ‘Wahala’ included Malith Upendra, Dakshika Bandara, Kalani Sachithra, Prabath Ekanayaka, Thisara Tharanga, Narmada Nikwethani, Chris Whetter, Jeewaka Randeepa, Supun Nirmani and Dumindu Hashan.
‘SangHawa’: ‘SangHawa’ was the guest performance of the evening.

This was an understated yet incredibly portrayed expression of the relationship between men and women of the Minangkabau tradition and culture. A special feature of this masterpiece was the use of live singing and humming and no music. This was a stunning, intimate and intense performance with subtle lighting.

An act performed only by two dancers, SangHawa told a powerful story; the dancers were Angga Mefri and Rio Mefri.

Challenging but rewarding

Speaking about the production process, Kapila stated: “This idea about ‘wahala’ came to me, when I was teaching contemporary yoga for one of the ambassadors, and he asked how much I charge for my dancing; when I quoted a price, he told me that it was slavery and that’s when I started thinking about this concept. We did a lot of research and did some improvisation and finally came up with this one hour show. It took a lot of hard work and long hours of rehearsals. This is a very challenging and exhausting process but at the same time it is rewarding.”

The audience at the nATANDA International Dance Festival was thrilled by the immense talent and the creativity of the performances. Here’s what they had to say:
Arturo Zoller: “I have seen all of Kapila’s productions and I am a huge fan. This year was also incredible. There were symbols hidden in the performance and it was beautiful. ‘Wahala’ was very powerful, the dancers were perfect. ‘SangHawa’ was a very strong performance as well. It was subtle; there were only two dancers, but it spoke to our souls. Well done!”

Gabriella Leangenberg: “This was a very special performance. It is not easy to put forward the pain and suffering that encompasses slavery but they did a great job. It was very creative. I absolutely loved it.”

Aruna Mallalagama: “I really enjoyed the show. I know Kapila and he is very talented and innovative. This is just another wonderful creation of his.”


By Pujanee Galappaththi