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LIFT OFF! (article first published : 2003-12-31)

Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre - one of KZN's foremost dance companies - is hosting LIFT Off!, a showcase of exciting new dance choreographed by Siwela Sonke company members and performed by 70 young dancers from the company's established dance development programme - in The Playhouse Drama for one performance only on January 10 at 15h00.

The programme features three pieces and embraces themes of reflection and celebration - looking at South Africa’s past and the future through the eyes of young people, a vibey celebration paying tribute to 10 years of democracy. The pieces are choreographed by Siwela Sonke choreographers Neliswa Rushualang, Eric Shabalala and Ntombi Gasa and performed by the three groups under their tuition. The programme is designed to showcase a wide variety of dance genres showing the versatility of the young dancers from the upbeat and exuberant kwaito, kwasa kwasa, tap, pantsula, hip hop and rap to the emotional depths of contemporary dance. In addition, the different works features professional soloists serving as role models for the young dancers, including the extraordinary Siyanda Duma, Sifiso Majola (guest dancer from the Phenduka Dance Company) and Andile Mgadi, actor and rap poet who was last seen as Prospero in The Tempest.

The three works of new dance will be complimented by the much-acclaimed 320 - a vibrant pantsula work which was created for the CityScapes project and which was originally performed on the escalators at 320 West Street.

The Siwela Sonke Youth Development Programme has been running since the Company's inception in 1997 and currently involves 70 young dancers aged between seven and 23. These young people are from Durban and environs and as far afield as Kwa Machai near Port Shepstone. Funded by the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the National Arts Council, this vigorous teaching programme trains young dancers in various dance forms but includes experiences of other disciplines such as singing, visual arts and drama. The tuition focuses on the development of dance technique as well as creative dance and composition.

"The work to be showcased is both surprising and profound," says Jay Pather - artistic director of Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre. " As the summer vacation comes to an end and a new year begins, it is the ideal time for both children and adults to experience the energy and inspiration of young dancers as they take us into 2004". Several years into this development programme, the dancers have learned vital skills and dance discipline and are showing great promise and substantial progress in their skills, enthusiasm and work.

Off to a busy and promising start to the year, Siwela Sonke leaves for India straight after LIFT Off! at The Playhouse. The company has been invited to take 25 dancers to perform at the opening ceremony of the "World Social Forum, another world is possible " conference in Mumbaai for an estimated 60,000 delegates from all over the world. The only dance company to be invited to this high profile major international conference, this is a huge honour both for the company and for the region.

Entry is by donation. All proceeds go towards funding the youth dance development programme. For seat reservations and more information contact Nicosha on 031 307 6685 during office hours. Tickets will also be available at the door. Box office opens at 14h00.




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