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VIDEO TO THE RESCUE (article first published : 2001-02-14)

The only way to preserve a living performance is to capture it for ever on celluloid. The talents of Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company combined with those of South Africa’s foremost television producer Allen Auld and the technology wizardry of Lava (the audiovisual arm of Hunt Lascaris) has resulted in a video of FFFDC’s fine production of Romeo and Juliet. The ballet, choreographed by Mark Hawkins and David Gouldie, was recently performed at the Playhouse’s festive season after a successful nationwide tour.

The production video, which saw all contributors working for very little or no remuneration, will not only work as a valuable marketing tool for FFFDC but will also mean that dance lovers throughout the world will be able to enjoy this Durban-grown version of the classical ballet.

“With the demise of dance companies around South Africa, Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company is one of the few still performing,” says Allen. “The performing arts are a vital component of our cultural lives which certainly does not receive the same financial support as sport. FFFDC needs help to continue to produce their distinctive style of dance.”

Undeniably South Africa’s most experienced television arts director, Allen Auld produced Collage (formerly Portfolio) on SABC3 for about ten years. Collage was replaced by Arts Unlimited which continued until the axing of the arts programme about three years ago.

Since then, Allen has produced a video of Gary Gordon’s dance drama titled Inside Bessie Head which was a tribute to the well-known author and dealt with her obscure origins, struggle for survival and battle for recognition. This production is also available on video.

“If we don’t start recording productions of this calibre, our cultural heritage – which is already severely undermined by lack of interest from those who have the capacity to provide financial support – will disappear and remain only as a memory,” says Allen. “There is a greater interest in South Africa’s artistic diversity abroad than there is at home. One hopes that by capturing the visual and performing arts on video, it will remain accessible to those who value the artistic and creative expression of the individual.

A nation who turns it back on its arts and culture will leave a pale shadow of itself on the pages of its aesthetic history.”

The 90 minute video of Romeo and Juliet will be available from FFFDC. More details from Peter Taylor on (031) 209-0142.




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