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FNB DANCE UMBRELLA 2007 (article first published : 2007-02-18)

The 19th FNB Dance Umbrella opens this weekend with the Stepping Stones 1 and 2 programmes on February 17 and 18 at The Wits Theatre from 10h00 each day. The 3rd Stepping Stones programme will be at Uncle Tom's in Soweto on February 25 also from 10h00. These programmes feature mainly youth and community based groups, and for many is the beginning of their careers as choreographers.

Following the Stepping Stones programmes, Johannesburg will be abuzz with 22 exciting new dance programmes that can be seen at The Wits Theatre Complex, Jorissen Street, Braamfontein; Uncle Toms in Soweto, and the new Johannesburg University UJ Arts Centre in Auckland Park until March 17. The 12th programme includes Durban choreographer Musa Hlatshwayo’s acclaimed work Umthombi.

On February 23 and 24 at 19h00, the main festival opens at The Wits Theatre with a Mixed Bill featuring Acty Tang, Thabo Rapoo and Daniel Mashita. At 20h30 in the Wits Downstairs Theatre, Tossie van Tonder presents a new work called alphabet, which is a reflection of her life and where she is today. Van Tonder is presenting this work as the first part of a book she is writing about her life as an artist in this country, looking at both the past and the present.

On February 26 and 27 at 19h00 at the Wits Theatre a new commissioned work from Gary Gordon entitled go can be seen. Gordon is celebrating his life as a dancer; how things change and how the approach to creativity, differs with time. Gordon is the artistic director of First Physical Dance Theatre from Grahamstown.

Also on February 26 and 27 at 20h15, is a Germany/Kenya collaboration choreographed by Gerda König from DIN A 13 Dance Company who was assisted by Ondiege Matthew from Kenya as co-choreographer. CounterCircles reflects on life isolated in cages like tiny elements of an enormous clock. Men become chickens, poor become divas…. In unremitting, surreal and funny scenes, power plays with powerlessness, tradition meets modernity and mysticism merges with Kenyan reality. The DIN A 13 Dance Company developed the piece as part of the ‘Dance meets differences' project in Kenya (Nairobi). The production CounterCircles has been assisted by the Goethe Institute of Johannesburg.

emballe-moi (wrap me up) choreographed by Katarzyna Gdaniec and Marco Cantalupo from Company Linga, Switzerland can be seen in the Wits Theatre on February 28 and March 1 at 19h00. This disproportionate social phenomenon reveals a cynical idea, which transforms the world into merchandise. The message, constantly repeated, is clear: consumption is the solution to all problems. Merchandise is the centre and the meaning of life, the (super) market its temple. With this new piece the choreographers and the six performers throw a light on the seducing techniques of this system - advertising - at the service of “the consumer society”. emballe-moi (wrap me up) is presented with assistance from Pro-Helvetia: Swiss Arts Council.

Programme 9 at The Wits Amphitheatre on February 28 and March 1 at 20h30 is a new work from Peter van Heerden called 6 Mins. With this work the erf (81) cultural collective will depart from their previous work bok and begin their research into the new work 6 mins. This is a live installation piece which explores man's continued struggles within himself. This programme has an age limit of 18 years old as it contains sensitive material, violence and rape.

Programme 11 is at the UJ Arts Centre on March 3 and 4 at 18h00 with a work called Encounters created by Gladys Agulhas. This work explores the various emotional and physical life journeys of people with different physical abilities. Agulhas has collaborated with a group of dancers who grapple with the challenges we all face regardless.

Programme 12 on March 3 and 4 at 20h00 at the UJ Centre for the Arts will host the much acclaimed Umthombi by Durban choreographer Musa Hlatshwayo. This work was a runner-up in the African Indian Ocean Choreography competition 2006 and has been invited to the Barbican Centre in London later this year. The winner of the African Indian Ocean Choreography Competition 2006, Andreya Ouamba shares the stage with his work Impro-Vise_2: an abstract presentation of the emotions and balance of power that street kids maintain in the streets (called ‘talibé' in Dakar) with ‘the rest of the world'; there's the passage of the always sad character who begs and that of the character who justifies the sad one's existence. This work has been supported by the French Institute of South Africa and the French Embassy in South Africa.

Programme 13 is the New Moves Programme at the Wits Theatre from 14h00 on March 4. This mixed bill features works from young up and coming choreographers, some of whom have participated in the Young Choreographers Residency programmes in the past two years.

Programme 14 is at The Wits Theatre on March 5 and 6 at 19:00. French choreographer Pascal Montrouge presents his new work called Os (Bones). Stepping out of ourselves, observing our own lives, looking at death: Exile and bones: remembering that bones are the last tangible thing we have in life. Os is presented with the support of CulturesFrance, the French Institute of South Africa and the French Embassy in South Africa.

Other highlights for FNB Dance Umbrella 2007 are The Gauteng MEC Awards for Contemporary Choreography and Dance 2006, which will be presented on March 17, at the Wits Amphitheatre before the final performances. The FNB Dance Umbrella 2007 will also include a Young Choreographers Residency Programme which has been funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and the National Arts Council. This will take place from February 27 to March 11.

The FNB Dance Umbrella 2007 has been made possible with assistance from First National Bank; National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund; The French Institute of South Africa; The French Embassy in South Africa; Centre Culturel Franco-Mozambicain; CulturesFrance; Business and Arts South Africa; the National Arts Council; Pro-Helvetia: Swiss Arts Council; The Goethe Institute of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture.

Tickets for the FNB Dance Umbrella are available at the door or can be booked at Computicket on 011 340 8000 and prices range from R20 to R80. Concessions/block bookings and subscription tickets are available.




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