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IMPRESSIONS (article first published : 2005-07-9)

This morning I ventured into a part of Grahamstown I have never seen in all the 18-odd years of coming to the National Arts Festival. And it simply meant going the opposite end of African Street to the way I normally go. This took me into a quiet area of Rhodes University to the Alec Mullins Hall to see Impressions, a production by the Durban-based Dance Direction International.

It was sad that there was such a small audience because those that missed it would have had a heart-warming experience to see 22 well-disciplined dancers ranging in age from 10 to 22 showing off their skills.

Choreographer Des van der Spuy is to be congratulated in mounting such a production. I know what its like to get one person from Durban to Grahamstown with accompanying baggage, clothes, timetables, etc. - let alone the 32 people involved in the full Dance Directions company!

This kind of exercise is invaluable to young performers as they are expected to display the same discipline and responsibility expected of professionals in this environment. They must also understand the need for adaptability in working in a different venue and the capacity to give the same focused performance whether there are 10 people in the audience or 100.

Through skilful arrangement of moves, each child got a chance to shine and be in the spotlight. Starting off with Jungle Boogie, the company performed a number of dance styles from jive to hip-hop to tap (choreographed by Jeanette Summerton) to ballet, finishing with a substantial work highlighting the personality of the artist Picasso.

I must make mention of a charming Eastern item with attractive chiffon costumes in red, orange and yellow. It was performed with grace and control. Caroline Smart




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