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IMBUMBA 2002 (article first published : 2002-02-13)

The KZN Dance Link has come of age with its third presentation of Imbumba (we are together) - a celebration of the wealth of different dance styles in South Africa. Running for a single matinee in the International Convention Centre (ICC), this polished presentation showcased a range of influences from township jive to Rajasthani folk dance, from the waltz to Irish river dance.

Sometimes the styles were very distinctive and offered stimulating contrasts. You canít get much more different than an erotic threesome in a slithering interaction to If itís Magic (Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company) and a trio performing a flamboyant Kathak in dramatic red and white costumes and ankle bells (Kala-Darshan company).

The Ballroom Latin American section presented another contrast, between a richly romantic waltz elegantly danced by Mtuseng Ndimande and Penny Shangase and a vibrant jive session from Alain Rijnvis and Sara Els. There were also some memorable moments of fusion - four black males dancing stylish Bharatha Natyam in the Surialanga companyís Alarippu; and a strong Afro/contemporary evocation of animals in the Shwibeka Dance Projectís Jungle Prey.

Another reminder of the choreographic and dance talent that abounds on the local boards came from a reprise of Recognition, a bristling pas de deux between the seasoned Ondine Bello and Sifiso Kweyama from the Phenduka Dance Theatre.

The 18 numbers on the programme featured professionals alongside project groups and dance academies, with an avalanche of participants from tiny tots to seasoned soloists. But each item was clearly well rehearsed and drilled, which speaks volumes for those sharing their expertise in our province. Names like Lliane Loots, Suria Govender, Eric Shabalala and Caesar Mkhize are among the many who work with almost missionary zeal to keep our dance roots alive and entertwining.

Perhaps the only disappointment was a preponderance of disco over indigenous dance. Like language, dance inevitably moves with the times.

One of the extraordinary highlights of the show was the sizzling exuberance from the Godís Golden Acre dancers in Jive Motello by Thokozani Makhoba .The participants are all orphaned victims of AIDS and abuse who were initially given dance workshops by Dance Link members purely for therapy. So successfully has this brought them out of themselves that it has catapulted them into the overseas arena. After performances at various international conventions they have now been offered a six-week tour of England.

With its Imbumba 2002, Dance Link has fulfilled another important function by underlining that dance is not only an instrument for classical precision but also - most elementally and ancestrally - a celebration of being alive. - Lynne Goodman




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