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Sri Lankan Dancer with Down Syndrome Promotes Heritage, Awareness June 19

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Kosala Dullewa stands out not just because he is a talented dancer, but also because he has thrived with Down syndrome in a country in which he was not always accepted. Now 21 and well-known in Sri Lanka, Dullewa spreads knowledge of his homeland’s dance and awareness about those living with Down syndrome in the performance Journey of Courage. The presentation comes to Penn State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 19, in Schwab Auditorium. Journey of Courage is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Tickets are available beginning June 11 at Eisenhower Auditorium, at the corner of Eisenhower and Shortlidge roads on the University Park campus, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; or at Penn State Tickets Downtown in the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center, 146 S. Allen St., State College, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Tickets are also available at Schwab on the evening of the performance. The concert features Dullewa and other Sri Lankan dancers—including his 15-year-old sister, Bimsara—performing 19 traditional Sri Lankan dances. Dullewa was selected to perform at the 2010 VSA International Festival, which takes place in Washington, D.C., the week before his Penn State appearance. VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, is a nonprofit affiliated with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Dullewa is the first person from Sri Lanka with Down syndrome to perform at the prestigious festival. As a child, Dullewa displayed a keen interest in song and dance. He was fascinated by the colorful costumes, music and dancing on Sri Lankan television and began imitating the dancers. Whenever he heard music playing, Dullewa would break into dance. Though he could not sing, he created his own interpretation of the dances. His parents encouraged him to express himself and sought help to teach their son traditional dance. Dullewa first appeared on stage at age 12 and made history three years later by performing Diriya Narthana, a two-hour solo of Asian dancing. He won the Excellent Children of the Nation Award on World Children’s Day in 2004. Each year since then he has earned the special recognition award for outstanding performance in several competitions and has been the gold medalist and national winner at the annual competitive festival of the British and International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech. Dullewa was the first person with Down syndrome to win the Personal Improvement Award of the Outstanding Young Persons of Sri Lanka. “Although Kosala may not have realized it himself, his greatest achievement, as I see it, is that with his gifted personality Kosala has changed society’s attitude toward Down syndrome children, and he inspired us to establish a foundation for children with special needs in Sri Lanka,” said his mother Saroja Dullewa. “The Kosala Dullewa Foundation’s mission is to assist underprivileged children with different physical and mental disabilities to become useful citizens who could contribute positively to society and become the driving force to change attitudes of society toward children with mental and physical disabilities.” Learn more about Kosala at Jabco Maggi Mitsubishi, in affiliation with the Kosala Dullewa Foundation, presents Journey of Courage with support from the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State. Contact: Laura Sullivan, 814.863.6379