Dilini Seneviratne was the first Sri Lankan to be awarded the Yuva Nritya Ratna Award at The National Indian Arts Awards, which were organised by Milapfest, for promoting Sri Lankan Kandyan dancing in the UK.
Milapfest is Britain’s leading Indian arts development trust, producing world class performances, education and artist development opportunities across the UK. Dilini received her award on the 14th June 2018 at the Southbank Centre, where the National Indian Art Awards took place.
The awardees were chosen by a nationally constituted jury of six members. The jury had a tough time deciding winners from an extremely talented and deserving group of amazing arts professionals. Milapfest also recognises the importance of supporting the many talented young people of Britain, and celebrating them for their hard work, dedication and skills in the practise, performance and propagation of Indian classical arts in the country.
An advocate and pioneer in the British Kandyan dance scene in UK, Dilini is dedicated to ensure that traditional Sri Lankan dancing receives the recognition it deserves outside of Sri Lanka. She is primarily self-taught in many dance styles and has performed under Sri Lanka’s finest dance gurus Professor Mudiyanse Dissanayake and Ms Kumudu Perera.
Over the past decade, she has performed at various high-profile events and prestigious venues including Lord’s, The Oval and the Rose Bowl – representing the Sri Lankan Tourism Promotion Bureau in the UK and Sri Lankan Cricket as well as the Sri Lankan High Commission – for yearlong cultural events. She has performed at welcome ceremonies for diplomats from all over the world, relaunch of British Airways to Sri Lanka, World Travel Market and Sri Lankan TV channels.
During her time at University of Southampton, she started the first ever classical dance society – Southampton Kandyan and Bharatanatyam Dance. She has trained students with multiple abilities, choreographed dance acts for national level competitions and performances all over UK. Various milestones achieved by the society led by her resulted in her winning multiple awards including being highly commended for Achievements in Dance, Most Likely to be Notable Dancer after university, Excellence in Volunteering–Outstanding Leader and Lifetime membership to Union for dedication to Performing Arts.
Wanting to push further on creating bigger and better platforms for classical dancers, she created the first ever inter-university classical dance competition in UK called THAALA. By creating this, she opened many doors for classical dancing opportunities for not just Kandyan dancers but Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Odissi and fusion dancers in UK as well.
Dilini was interviewed by South Asian Radio Star – Ashanti Omkar from BBC Asian Network to introduce Kandyan to her listeners, for the first time in the show’s history. Through UCL’s Rangeela showcase, she has taken Kandyan to West-End’s Adelphi Theatre with a team of 15 dancers trained by herself. Dilini’s most recent award won was the People’s Choice Award from the Inspiring Indian Women organisation for promoting Sri Lankan arts and culture in UK at the Westminster Parliament.