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DANCE AT NAF (article first published : 2005-03-23)

New cross-genre fusions, new multi-media spectacles, new scripts and new culture-smart agendas stimulated by new audience appetites: these are the dominant flavours on the Main programme for the National Arts Festival taking place in Grahamstown from June 30 to July 9 which was announced this week. "A new tribe of mature and professional South African artists with international experience are cooking up a storm in the Mzantsi arts kitchens. The ingredients for this festival were garnered from the four corners of our creative marketplace by people who know the shortest route to the heart of an audience," said Lynette Marais, Festival Director.

The dance programme ranges from classical through fusion to Eastern Cape traditional and the joyous athleticism that makes dance an Olympic sport.

A memorable combination of talents, Elizabeth Triegaardt's staging of Sleeping Beauty features the Cape Town City Ballet, choreography by David Poole (after Petipa) and Tchaikovsky's spellbinding score performed by the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra. Gorgeous costumes, moments of high drama, sumptuous court scenes and delicate pas de deux make this a balletomane's mustn't miss.

Fusion is the repetiteur for Windows, a choreographic collaboration between Adele Blank of Free Flight Dance Company and Martin Schönberg of Ballet Theatre Afrikan, using classical, contemporary, jazz and afro-fusion dance languages. Scenes from daily life in an apartment block with all its comings and goings and emotional ups and downs, allow the dancers to give free rein to their versatility.

Dance moves closer to theatre and performance art with Petra, a provocative new multi-media piece by Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner PJ Sabbagha. Through a tragic love story it explores masculinity, and draws parallels between life under apartheid and love in the time of HIV/Aids. This is a Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative production with music by Jennifer Ferguson and dancers Athena Mazarakis, Craig Morris and Nathaniel Stern, among others.

The body's memory is a remarkable asset (particularly for a dancer), but it can also hold on to negative experiences, inducing a fear of freedom and stifling instinct and desire. This is the dimension of memory that informs 37 Degrees of Fear a poignantly delicate work conceived and choreographed by Juanita Finestone-Praeg with an all-female cast.

Attachments offers another contemporary close-up on human emotion, this time from the inimitable Gerard Bester who never loses his light touch, even in the most deeply serious moments. He observes the developments of a relationship in six short duets performed by Athena Mazarakis and Craig Morris.

Shoes is about dance and the adrenalin rush that is its own message. This percussive spectacle sees the Tap Talk Rhythm squad and the gumboot dancers from Heidelberg's Corroboration strike sparks off one another.

The Eastern Cape Cultural Ensemble takes us on a journey of discovery, from the hills of Kwa-Gcaleka to the plains of the Klein Karoo, with storytelling and interludes from the rich dance and music traditions of the region. The creative team of Skin Sipoko, Dalu Papu and Xolani Sibuta make this show, with its superb costumes, a cultural experience of the diverse heritage of the country.

Once again dancers from round the country will take advantage of the Fringe stage to air their talents and inspirations.

This festival is presented by the Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, SABC and the National Arts Council. Booking kits will be available during mid April in time for the opening of the booking on May 9. The Fringe booking kit will be available from May in time for the opening on May 23. Further information on 046 603 1103/1164 or visit http://www.nafest.co.za




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