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CUBED (article first published : 2003-07-17)

Having just completed a successful appearance at the National Schools Festival in Grahamstown which followed the main arts festival and their previous highly-acclaimed Off Axis season in Durban, The Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company continue their exciting exploration of dance!

Running for a very short season at the Square Space Theatre on the University of Natal Durban campus, Cubed features new works choreographed by five male FFFDC members: Ebrahim Medell, Thulebona Mzizi, Quinton Ribbonaar, Gerard Samuel and Ignatius van Heerden with guest artist Gerard Samuel of LeftfeetFIRST.

This is the first time FFFDC has offered a platform to its dancers to explore and hone their creative talents and the challenge has been taken up with force and energy. The resulting works are very different in their styles, moods and subject matter.

Gerard Samuel’s Not So Long Ago deals with shifts in power and blind prejudice. Opening with well-dressed and elegant socialites, it changes gear dramatically to a darker mood and hints at Nazism and apartheid.

Always innovative, Ebrahim Medell presents Sleeping through a hurricane. Sculpted images and mood reversals feature in this item which moves from frenzied movements to the exquisitely balletic. Described as a work in progress, this is definitely a dance piece to watch.

Ignatius van Heerden is a new FFFDC member and if the ability shown in Plucked from angels’ wings is anything to go by, let’s hope he’s around for a while. This moving and fascinating piece presents refreshing ideas such as large handfuls of peacock feathers which are used to beautiful effect.

Video technology formed an integral part of the last two items on the programme.

Quinton Ribbonnaar’s Negatively Positive is a complex and multi-layered piece and I must admit to having difficulty in relating to the work. This might be because I couldn’t identify the video images being played onto a wallhanging , not the best receptive surface for them. I was impressed, however, with the first half of the work which used the technology to excellent advantage.

Closing the programme is an intensely moving and spiritual work by Thulebona Mzizi titled Khoi-San ‘X’ which is dedicated to the first man who was imprisoned on Robben Island. Using strips of bamboo which eventually became a water craft, Thulebona presented a forceful image of a man divesting himself of his contemporary trappings and reuniting with his spirits and his soul.

Cubed moves easily from one item to the next and also includes some neat scene changes, particularly after the first number. The choreographers appeared in works other than their own as did FFFDC’s two excellent female dancers Angela Lardant and Louise Fraquet.

You can’t waste any time in getting to see it as the season ends on Sunday (July 20). Tickets R25 inclusive (no discounts) available from the Square Space Theatre box office only or via FFFDC on tel/fax 031 209 0142. The box office will be open one hour before each performance. Show times are Wednesday to Saturday at 19h30 and Sundays at 18h00. More information from Peter on tel/fax 031 209 0142. – Caroline Smart




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