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OFF AXIS (article first published : 2003-06-20)

Forget Spirit of the Dance, Spirit of Broadway, Tap Dogs and any other imported dance extravaganza. You can see a stunning and exciting production of dance created on its own homeground by Durban’s Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company and beautifully lit by Michael Broderick at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. The works of four award-winning South African choreographers -Christopher Kindo, Robyn Orlin and FFFDC’s own Mark Hawkins and David Gouldie – make up for a triumphant programme from this excellent company titled Off Axis.

First up is New Age Circus, a fascinating multi-layered new work by David Gouldie which involves elements of magic and balancing acts. It has an electrifying and dramatic opening and each highly-focused scene surpasses its predecessor. Full of surprises, it features funky rock contemporary juxtaposed with the exquisiteness of balletic movement. A particular highlight was the final scene where Quinton Ribbonaar and new FFFDC member Ignatius van Heerden showed that if circus balancing acts want to do things in style, they should ask a dancer!

Nice to see Jose Ferreira’s massive Bodice Sculpture making an appearance and highly professional and well-disciplined guest artiste Ajax is worth the ticket price alone. I’m not giving the game away, go and see the show for yourself! Also good to see Joy Ford, Avril Holloway and David Moodie of the Anna Conradie Revellers involved in the show.

State of the Arts was first performed as part of The Dying Swan Trilogy in 2000. Mark Hawkins’ highly amusing piece (danced tonight by Louise Fraquet who alternates with Angela Lardant) is a biting comment on the battle of survival of the classical forms. Even the follow spot gets to play a dramatic role.

While Christopher Kindo’s Black Tide premiered at 2001 FNB Vita Dance Indaba in Cape Town, this is the first time it has been performed by FFFDC. It deals with abuse of peope and abuse of the environment and during the process, purity (portrayed by a dancer in white) gets sullied and blooded. Choreographed to a cool jazzy score and incorporating some dramatic lifts, it featured Louise Fraquet, Ebrahim Medell, Quinton Ribbonaar and Ignatius van Heerden.

Robyn Orlin’s work always breaks boundaries and that’s the way the cookie crumbles is no exception. First performed by the Playhouse Dance Company in 1996, it has been reworked to include an all-male (rather than all-female) line-up and retitled that’s the way the cookie (is still) crumbl(ing)es …. Gerard Samuel makes a welcome guest appearance in this hilarious piece which features costumes by Shrieking Violet. Picture the scene – a bunch of “ladies” carrying rawhide whips and surrounded by a huge pile of loaves of bread launch into a send-up of a cowboy movie! The sight of Thulebona Mzizi in a Mary Quant styled outfit, floral hat and court shoes doing a parody of a traditional Zulu stick fight will remain with me for a long time!

While each dancer’s performance during the programme was of a singular high standard, mention must be made of Ebrahim Medell and Quinton Ribbonaar who just seem to get more impressive every time they step on a stage!

Performances are at 19h30 on June 21 and from June 24 to 29. Tickets R60 (R45 pensioners, students, scholars on presentation of relevant card). There will be three schools performances on June 25, 26 and 27 at 11h00. The FFFDC is supported by the National Arts Council. The NAC can be assured that FFFDC is spending their money wisely! – Caroline Smart




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