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FLATFOOT GOES SQUARE (article first published : 1999-05-27)

Flatfoot Goes Square is the title of the Flatfoot Dance Company’s latest season of contemporary dance in the Square Space Theatre on the University of Natal’s Durban campus high on the Berea.

Housed and supported by the UND drama and performance studies department, Flatfoot Dance’s latest collection of `new cutting edge contemporary dance works’ forms part of the drama department’s 50th anniversary this year.

“Flatfoot Dance is now five years old and this season of work represents a milestone in our lives,” says artistic director Lliane Loots. “Not only have we managed to keep our vision of creating a contemporary dance company located in the KwaZulu-Natal context alive, but this season has offered a chance for the dancers to work with invited guest choreographers. This has given them the chance to engage with various contemporary dance forms and artistic visions

The five-piece programme contains work by Linda Peyters, David Gouldie, Shivanti Lowton and Garth Naudé, with Lliane Loots also contributing an item.

D.S.M.5* has a mouthful of a subtitle - *Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fictional fifth edition)! Choreographed by Garth Naudé and the cast and featuring Patrick Buthelezi, Jade Meilhon and Gareth Nash, it is set to music by Peter Gabriel and Craig Armstrong. The work explores neurotic behaviour and suggests an involved triangle of relationships each with its own emotional characteristic and inner tensions.

The frenetic world we live in is explored in CYBERPHANTASM choreographed by Shivanti Lowton with music by Roni Size/Reprazent. Forming into pairs or foursomes, de-forming or just bouncing off doing their own thing as “dancers stuck in a world hurtling through the 21st Century”, are Brandies Johnson, Tina le Roux, Mfundo Mabena and Gareth Nash. They create the image of an impersonal world where, while people move together, they do it without any real connection

Meredith Monk’s music features in Lliane Loots’s Warrior Marks. Since her extended visit to India, Lliane Loots acknowledges herself much influenced by the country’s culture and religious ethic and her work now shows a new sense of Eastern grace and style. Her Warrior Marks offers the theme that both a woman’s body and the Southern African land represent colonised space. Both have been, and are, occupied territories that bear the marks of a warrior. Dancers Suhana Gordhan, Seren McMurtry, Nosipho Nwayo and Caroline van Wyk perform against a backdrop of slides of Cato Crest dwellings by Lené Tempelhoff.

The shortest item on the programme but undoubtedly the most dramatic is Linda Peyters’s Part 1: just a note to say thanks. Dancer Deirdre Atkins, her mother Michele Atkins and close family friend Faith Bennettes portray three generations of women. Against a background of evocative sepia images by Val Adamson and the voice of the incomparable Billy Holiday, heirlooms are passed down in a dignified and gracious manner from the grandmother, lulling the audience into a warm and loving atmosphere until the final powerful moment.

Same Issues, Different Questions (Object of a White Man’s Guilt). A white man dances. A black man follows him, carrying a spotlight that lights the moving figure - closely observing and monitoring its every move. The dancer is Garth Naudé who presents a finely controlled performance and Patrick Buthelezi is behind the light. I look forward to the day when this piece is shown on a larger stage where a wider space will allow the interplay of light to produce new dimensions. Set to music by Meredith Monk, this is undoubtedly the strongest piece on the programme from one of South Africa’s most innovative choreographers, David Gouldie.

Flatfoot Goes Square runs in the Square Space Theatre at 19h30 until May 29. Tickets at the door.


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