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NAF DANCE (article first published : 2007-06-19)

Strong narrative sub-texts are a feature of many dance works on the main programme of the National Arts Festival running in Grahamstown from June 28 to July 7.

Macbeth was the starting point for multi-award-winning PJ Sabbagha and his company. They present a riveting contemporary tale about a capitalist tsotsi and a serial shopper. The story of Salomé as told by Oscar Wilde lit a spark that led to the creation of Chaste in the complex imagination of Acty Tang, 2007 winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance.

The Nutcracker, one of the most popular ballets of all time, spins a web of magic and romance with a girl shrinking to the size of her toys that come alive to defend her from danger. Their leader, a handsome toy soldier changes into a prince. This Cape Town City Ballet treat is produced by Elizabeth Triegaardt with Tchaikovsky's delicious music performed by the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra under the baton of Naum Rousine. Cargo, an innovative collaboration from Jazzart Dance Theatre and Magnet Theatre, engages with some of the core themes of slavery at the Cape. Mark Fleishman directs, choreography is by Alfred Hinkel and musical direction by Neo Muyanga.

Umtshato - The Wedding sweeps the audience off on a festive procession through the Eastern Cape's cultural enclaves, climaxing with the nuptials of a Khoisan princess and a Xhosa prince. The 70-strong Eastern Cape Cultural Ensemble is directed by Skin Sipoko with choreography by Daluxolo Papu and Xolani Sibuta.

Two performances showcase dynamic short works by a cross-section of South Africa's most exciting dance talents. Fresh II resounds with the assertive dance voices of Dada Masilo, Sphelele Nzama, Ruth Sacks, Shaun Acker, Dinkies Sithole, Leila Anderson and Sizwe Zulu. Dansynergy celebrates Tshwane Dance Theatre's entourage of choreographic talents. Songezo Mchilizeli's Sweet Honey Nights has three female dancers on pointe. Landscape of Pain by Mchilizeli and Daniel Mashita questions our morals and the beliefs that inform them. Sporo was created by the seven-strong company and features Kofifi-township jive influenced by Afro-contemporary moves.

Adding to the multi-cultural mix, Mexico's Delfos Contemporary Dance will show festinos why they are one of the best loved and admired of dance ensembles in Latin America. Vanja Uday and her company from India present 80 minutes of Kuchipudi dance. Sparkling with gorgeous adornments, this eminent dramatic all-rounder shines in the dance, gesture, speech and song that combine to make Kuchipudi a popular genre.

The Fringe festival programme features more dance work in a wide variety of genres. At The Studio three Eastern Cape groups present a programme of local, contemporary and traditional dance.

The National Arts Festival is proudly supported by The Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, SABC and The National Arts Council.

For further information contact 046 603 1103 or visit the website www.nafest.co.za




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