DN Tue July 19 2005: Sri Lanka's doyen of dance Deshamanya Chitrasena passed away peacefully yesterday. He was 85. Chitrasena was unsurpassed in his art and with wife Vajira took this unique indigenous art form to the world stage giving the West a glimpse of Sri Lanka's cultural ethos.
It was only the other day that Chitrasena was conferred with the highest honour accorded by the French Government.
In a moving scene French Ambassador Bernard de Vaivre pinned the honour on the wheelchair bound icon of Sinhala stage ballet in the presence of a small gathering of family and friends.
The Government of France by naming him a Chevalier De L'ordre Des Arts Et Des Letters was recognising not only the country's greatest dancer but also a master of the dance and the ballet who had brought joy to the hearts of the international community ranging from Paris to Beijing and Canberra to Moscow and who was Sri Lanka's unacknowledged cultural ambassador.
The funeral took place at Borella Kanatte yesterday in keeping with his last wishes.
DN Tue July 19 2005: Dr. Chitrasena was a torchbearer of the cultural renaissance that followed the 1956 progressive revolution in Sri Lanka. He pioneered the cause of establishing a national identity to indigenous dancing traditions on an international level, stated a message of condolence by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga on the demise of Dr. Chitrasena, the doyen of indigenous dancing yesterday.
"I was deeply saddened to hear of the demise of Dr. Chitrasena who entered the arena of dancing by playing a role in "Sirisangabo" ballet produced by the late Ebert Dias, his own father, in the year 1936.
His lofty and innovative contribution towards the advancement of performing arts throughout the past 50 years cannot be forsaken, the message stated.
The Chitrasena Kalayathanaya founded by him not only brought under one roof the many artistes engaged in the fields of dancing, ballet, and music but also gifted to the country a large number of veterans in these fields.
His early productions such as the ballets "Karadiya" and "Nala-Damayanthi" remains unsurpassed even to this day, it said.
He was honoured by the award of title "Deshamanya" and a few days ago the French Government awarded him a grand title in recognition of his contribution to the art of ballet dancing on international level. This was a rare honour he brought to the credit of Sri Lanka, as a whole. As a lover of dancing I was personally fortunate to be the pupil of the Chitrasena dancing couple.
I consider Chitrasena's demise as a personal loss to me. Because by his passing away, I lost a good friend who was a virtuous man with a wide knowledge of the art of both the Oriental and Western dancing.I convey my deepest sympathies together with those of the Government to his beloved wife Vajira, his daughters Upekha and Anjalike, his son Anudattha, other relations and well-wishers of his family and the arts lovers all over who are bereaved by the demise of Dr. Chitrasena who left behind a void that cannot be replaced easily.
May the late Dr. Chitrasena attain the bliss of Nibbana, stated the President's message.