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DANCE ON 2007 NAF (article first published : 2007-03-27)

In a world grown increasingly angry and aggressive, individuals inevitably react by seeking meaning in the particular, the private and the personal. And the arts, harbingers of our inner lives, lead the way. The trend is clear in the Main Programme for the National Arts Festival which takes place in Grahamstown from June 28 to July 7. Several important new theatre pieces focus closely on the tender moments when two souls find common ground. The music programme is infused with the overwhelming humanity of hundreds of voices singing in unison. A vast embroidered altarpiece celebrates the joy and the beauty of creation. This is pleasure with a deeply healing purpose. Art that helps to fill in what’s missing - helps to make sense of our existence.

Now in its 33rd year, the Festival began in 1974 and has grown to be one of the leading arts festivals in southern Africa. Its objectives are to deliver excellence; encourage innovation and development in the arts by providing a platform for both established and emerging South African artists; create opportunities for collaboration with international artists; and build new audiences.

“The programme offers a representative sample of current creative preoccupations,” said Lynette Marais, Festival Director. “Our artists have extra sensitive antennae which enable them to scout out the route ahead, anticipating the way people on the ground deal with the contexts they find themselves in.” Now, more than ever, audiences and artists are turning inward, reassessing value systems, questioning the accuracy of memory, overhauling the power balance in relationships, and trading-in yesterday’s hopes and dreams for new ones.

At the festival, the dancing body possesses a creative space where cultures and codes meet and mingle to enhance their individual performance languages.

The Cape Town City Ballet headlines the programme with that Russian delight, The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s magical score – possibly the greatest ballet music ever written – is performed by the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra.

An equally timeless classic, Macbeth, is the inspiration for a startlingly topical new dance work by PJ Sabbagha, a previous winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance. This year’s winner of the prestigious award is Acty Tang. He presents Chaste, with his hallmark combination of erotic power and immaculate grace.

Visiting companies hail from Mexico and India. Delfos Contemporary Dance, one of Latin America’s leading companies, will demonstrate their excitingly exotic physicality while Vanaja Uday and a Kuchipudi Dance Group introduce the contemporary form of an ancient tradition.

The combined talents of Jazzart Dance Theatre and Magnet Theatre present Cargo, a multi-layered exploration of slavery and its implications for our past, present and future.

Umtshato – The Wedding features a 70-strong Eastern Cape ensemble on a narrative dance journey through time and traditions. Tshwane Dance Theatre writes the traditions of the future with Dansynergy, a programme of three diverse works by company members.

Fresh II is a programme of four works by rising dance stars, Dada Masilo (Gauteng), Shaun Acker (Eastern Cape), Sphelele Nzama (KwaZulu-Natal) and Ruth Sacks (Western Cape).

As the countdown to the festival begins, keep a watchful eye on this space or www.nafest.co.za (See other disciplines for festival programme news)




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