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CITYSCAPES (article first published : 2002-03-3)

Five site specific dance theatre performances will occur throughout the month of March, on the five Saturdays. Each performance is inspired by the space that it is performed in. These include the hypnotic motion of the surf at the North Beach Pier, the landmark escalators of 320 West Street, a character full double room overlooking Smith Street at the Albany Hotel. Each performance lasts approximately 15 minutes, will commence at 15h00 and will be performed three times: 15h00, 15h30 and 16h00.

320 West Street on March 2: The facade of this building as well as the moving escalators have inspired a dance theatre performance with Pantsula dancers costumed in pinstripe suits hats and briefcases and cell phones.

The North Beach Pier on March 9 (Rain date March 10 at the same times): The ebb and flow of surf, the formations of foam edged waves have inspired hypnotic, ritualized dances depicted by Shembe, Celtic and Indian dancing. The dancers do not aim to provide crass cross-cultural dialogue as much as mirror, reflect and be part of an aspect of the sea that is seldom evoked or rarely enjoyed. The three groups of dancers, Shembe, Celtic and Indian use the length of the pier and the enveloping surrounds to create moments of peace, beauty and reflection during what many regard as a Holy Weekend.

The Workshop (Coffee Shop area in the main concourse) on March 17: Six dancers draw from the carnival atmosphere that surrounds an intimate, sunken coffee shop in this space of variety and kitsch. The dancers combine intimate gestures with burlesque, working with dance forms such as tap, jazz, and performance art. Veteran Workshop pianist Ricky Gass will be playing ragtime music will accompany the work.

The Albany Hotel on March 23: A woman lies on the bed under a sheet; a man in a raincoat and hat enters with the audience. An intimate dance work begins, depicting a mysterious and intriguing relationship. The dance is offbeat and passionate, funny and sad. The audience (of ten) watches an intricate and subtle relationship that emerges from inside the room.

Legends Restaurant/Musgrave Centre on March 30 March: A black kugel absails down the side of Musgrave Centre in a hoop skirt while a group of male isicathamiya singers sing the praises of Tekweni on the pavement. They interact marginally, making space for each other, negotiating survival in the middle of consumer paradise.

The works are conceived and directed by Jay Pather and choreographed in collaboration with the various dancers. The large cast of dancers emerge from a variety of companies, Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre, The Celtic Dance Company, Pravika's Kathak Kendra, The Fantastic Flying Fish Company, The Flatfoot Dance Company, the Our Hour Pansula Dance Company as well as dance students from the Technikon Natal.

Cityscapes will run as a season of dance at the Durban Art Gallery from April 4 to 7 at 19h30. Five leading artists, Greg Streak, Junaid Ahmed, Thando Mama, Virginia McKenny and Storm van Rensburg will interpret the five site-specific works on video.

This different video footage will be installed with the five performances in various spaces in the Durban Art Gallery. The performances will occur in a loop, repeating themselves with short breaks for 90 minutes. Audiences may wander from one performance to another as if they were at an exhibition. The Circular Gallery will also have a cash bar for audience to take a breather before moving on to watch another performance.




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