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ABAKHWETHA & UMTHOMBI (article first published : 2005-10-14)

Abakhwetha (the initiates) and Umthombi (the male adolescent) makes up a dance theatre production choreographed and devised by Musa Hlatshwayo of Mhayise Productions and presented by Flatfoot Dance Company.

This production features a display of the latest newspaper articles on the subject of the Xhosa male initiation ritual in South Africa and a pre-performance dance theatre piece that introduces the ritual of body painting. It was devised as a commissioned untitled collaboration with Clive van den Bergís Family Tree by Red Eye Art in 2004.

Abakhwetha was choreographed in August 2002 as a response to some of the deaths and casualties that result from the Xhosa male initiation rituals. Aesthetically; the piece fuses dance and movement with praise poetry, music, drama, body painting and physical improvisation.

The production was first commissioned by the Centre for Creative Arts and premiered at the Jomba! Contemporary Dance Festival in 2002. Other commissioned performances include 2003ís FNB Vita Johannesburg Dance Umbrella (Wits Theatre in Johannesburg), 2003ís Red Eye Art Commission (Durban Art Gallery), and 2003ís SANGA 3 (AFAA Commission) in Madagascar where the work represented South Africa in the all Africa and Indian Ocean Choreography competition amongst the top 11 contemporary creations.

Both works have just returned from Hungary where they were performed to full-house standing ovations in August this year at the Sizget Arts Festival in Budapest, one of Europeís largest Contemporary Arts Festivals.

Abakhwetha and Umthombi runs at the Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre from October 13 to 16 at 18h30. Tickets R60 (R35 students and pensioners) include a traditional meal. Bookings and enquiries through Claudette Wagner on 031 260 3134 or Clare Craighead on 082 875 69065.




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