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THREE MEN IN A SQUARE SPACE (article first published : 2006-12-11)

If contemporary dance is your thing – and even if it isn’t – don’t miss Three Men in a Square Space which runs until the end of this week at the Square Space Theatre.

Performed by Flatfoot Dance Company resident dancers Sifiso Kitsona Khumalo, S’fiso Magesh Ngcobo and Nkululeko Ntombela who have choreographed it themselves along with Lliane Loots, it also features video installation by Doung Anwar Jahangeer.

The linking dance pieces – with accompanying video footage for each character – look at what it means to be a man in today’s South Africa. It’s about three friends doing the stuff that friends do – hanging out at a diner, walking along the beach, living in a small room, impressing the girls…

There is much humour and irony – with the occasional aggressive patch or moments of isolation - but the strongest message celebrates the bond of friendship. Close friends don’t need to talk much as there is much language in silence. The dancers interact silently with each other most of the time and the odd quirky look, concerned glance or contained amusement all go towards an essence of unity. A sudden leap onto another’s back and the immediate responding solid support gave the feeling of “I’m always there when you need me, bro”.

This feeling of close interaction was extended to the audience as, seated on three sides of this small venue, we found ourselves bound up in the action. Many movements were performed in canon making for a fluid whole as the dance language was seamlessly passed from one to the other.

There was a particularly beautiful passage dealing with the scars of life – “If you find a man who will allow you to trace his scars …scars bearing the remembrance of pain …” - which was performed to poetry by Lliane Loots.

Generally Doung Anwar Jahangeer’s installation works well with the choreography but I wasn’t too happy with the first piece as it was too specific with the eye too easily drawn away from the dance. I preferred the close-up images of the feet – walking through grass, on sand, getting wet – which were complementary but not distracting. I loved the passages where the dancer climbs onto the roof of his shack to survey his world from a lofty perspective, king of his universe.

Sifiso Kitsona Khumalo, S’fiso Magesh Ngcobo and Nkululeko Ntombela are all award-winning dancers. Flatfoot is privileged to have them in the company. Altogether the performance made for a very fulfilling evening.

Three Men In A Square Space runs in the Square Space Theatre on the University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban Campus. Performances are from December 6 to 9 and again from December 13 to 16 at 19h30. Tickets R35 (R25 students, scholars and block bookings of more than 8 tickets). Booking through Claudette Wagner on 031 260 3133 (office hours only). – Caroline Smart

Flatfoot Dance Company acknowledges the support of the National Arts Council (South Africa).




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