Jayawanthi Pannibaratha’s passion for Classical Sri Lankan dance forms blossomed under the guidance of her father, the renowned dancer, Dr. S. Pannibaratha. Over the years, Jayawanthi herself has come to be known as a dancer of repute, and has done much promote public appreciation of Sri Lankan dance. One such endeavor is a dance class for adults conducted at Kithu Sevana, on Bullers Road.
When Jayawanthi began the classes in 2014, the response was very encouraging, and she was inundated with requests to move the classes to the evenings to allow those were working to also attend. While her classes are not strictly for senior citizens, the routines are carried out at a pace that appeals to all age groups.
Dance is proven to be a fabulous way to keep fit. It improves muscle tone, flexibility, gait and balance. Keeping in time with the rhythm of the music is also great for maintaining and improving cognitive skills. What’s more, dancing is fun! It relaxes you and soothes the soul. So it is no wonder then that Jayawanthi’s students derive so much joy as they dance their way to good health.
One of Jayawanthi’s very first students is Shanthini who says she enjoys every bit of it. Deepani who is an accountant by profession makes sure she has no appointments lined up on Wednesday evenings so that she can make it to the class. This is her way of relieving stress. She has been attending the class since its inception, and loves every minute of it. She describes it as a super quality workout. Savithri, another of Jayawanthi’s students has only three words to describe her experience at the class -“I love it!”
The classes are conducted on Wednesday and Friday evenings between 5 and 6 p.m. On Wednesday evenings, Jayawanthi teaches her students Kandyan dancing which is accompanied by drums. On Fridays however, she introduces her students to different traditional dance forms, which include Oriental dances and Manipuri (which originates in India’s North Eastern highlands).
On an average Jayawanthi has about 30 students attending her class for which she charges a very nominal fee to cover her costs such as the rental of the hall. Jayawanthi’s motivation to run the class stems solely from her love for dance, the joy it gives her students, and the close friendships she has established with many of them. She says that over the years the ladies have come to really bond with each other. On the day The Senior Station covered the class, one of the students brought with her some treats to celebrate her birthday with Jayawanthi and the other students. It is this bonhomie that makes the class so special says Jayawanthi. Between her responsibilities to her husband, two children and the many other commitments she has undertaken, Jayawanthi manages a very busy schedule. Yet it is the encouragement of her students that prompts her to continue the dance class at Kithu Sevana.