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DANCE IN ACTION 2001 (article first published : 2001-11-9)

At the end of every year, the University of Natal’s Drama and Performance Studies Programme present a performance which includes students from first to third year levels. It’s always an interesting exercise for those of us reviewing mainstream productions for it is here that one spots those with special talent moving up through the ranks of this pro-active department.

The item featuring first level students is always a challenge for any choreographer because of the varying level of the dance skills of the students and this year the task has been shared by three well-known creators of dance who have chosen to explore the themes of rituals, multiculturalism and fusion dance.

There’s Progression Ritual by the UND programme’s in-house movement lecturer Lliane Loots, urbanisation by Sifiso Kweyama of Penduka Dance Theatre, and modern street by David Gouldie, resident choreographer of Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company currently studying for his master’s degree at UND.

Choreographed and workshopped by Lliane Loots and the second year students, Learning to Chill was an audience favourite. The choice of music - VooDoo Phunk, Bob Marley and the Beatles – had a lot to do with it but it was this work which introduced us to those students who will undoubtedly be making their name felt in the department in the year to come.

The Grammar of the Feet, another work choreographed by Lliane Loots, was highly enjoyable and contained much humour as each dancer identified with a shoe style such as ballet, ballroom dance or gumboot. The final moments formed an interesting comment as Seren McMurtry (ballet) and Musa Hlatshwayo (gumboot) were placed in a confrontational situation. Each offered the other the challenge to engage in their particular dance style and eventually conceded that while we exist in a supposedly “Rainbow nation”, individual cultures are better at presenting their own styles and it’s okay to leave it that way.

Special mention must be made of these two dancers who had the daunting task of performing in no less than three consecutive works which gave the audience an opportunity to observe their versatility and range of emotions.

The Drama Programme’s resident contemporary Flatfoot Dance Company produced two works. Lost for Words was an eloquent and sophisticated piece featuring five dancers by Deirdre Atkins which was created as a result of her FNB Vita New Moves grant for Jomba! 2001.

Featuring guest dancer Ondine Bello from Phenduka Dance Theatre and guest performer, Welile Tembe, Sbonakaliso Ndaba’s arrive was originally choreographed for Flatfoot Dance Company’s earlier season Inspired by Bach. It’s an energetic and confrontational work dealing with the journey of life and the individual’s perception of his or her place in its process.

There is one more performance tomorrow night (November 10) at 18h30 in the Pieter Scholtz Open air Theatre at the University of Natal, Durban. It’s worth seeing. – Caroline Smart




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