Classical Dancing explorers

Dancing explorers

Dance finds its strength in international influences this year, with companies and choreographers collaborating from across the globe to bring thought-provoking work to Festival stages.

Headlining the Main programme is 2012 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Dance, Bailey Snyman’s Moffie. Inspired by Andre Carl van der Merwe’s novel of the same name, Moffie explores themes relating to homosexuality in the South African military. Snyman will be performing his own choreography in the piece, which is essentially a story about love, sexuality and violence.

Classical ballet is always a favourite on the Main, and this year’s Giselle promises the fairy-tale beauty audiences have come to expect of the Cape Town City Ballet company. Set in the Rhineland of the Middle Ages, the ballet tells the story of Giselle, a peasant girl whose ghost, after her premature death, protects her lover from the vengeance of a group of evil female spirits. The production is accompanied by the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Naum Rousine.

Inter.Fear is an artistic co-production between the South African choreographer and performer Athena Mazarakis and Hansel Nezza, choreographer, performer and artistic director of MARÀBULA barcelona · berlin. Inspired by a global context, the production creates an immersive theatrical encounter that considers the effects of unbridled fear in the lives of modern subjects.

Lanx (2008) and Obtus (2009) showcase the choreography and performance skills of Cindy van Acker. Trained in classical ballet, she has worked in the Flanders Royal Ballet as well as Geneva’s Grand Theatre. The pieces comprise choreographic scripting, minimalist movement, precise composition and electronic music, and consider the connections between body and spirit, sound and rhythm.

Re-FRESH brings the focus home to South African soil; a reloaded version of the programme Fresh, this production gives space and voice to choreographic works from all over the country, representing a range of artists from stalwarts to up-and-comers.

The French & the Fringe
Intercontinental collaborations between South Africa and France bring several performances. South Africa born Vincent Mantsoe’s Opera for Fools is set in the shebeens of ’70s and ’80s Soweto, and draws on traditional African dance forms, with a contemporary approach from modern, ballet and Asian forms.

Continuing the South African/French theme, Théâtre Taliipot’s !Aïa is a transversal work between art, culture, science and indigenous knowledge, drawing on the poems and paintings of the San people of Southern Africa to explore themes of human origins, traditional wisdom and relationships with nature.

The double-bill Pudique Acide and Extasis by the Centre Chorégraphique National de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon comprises two duets revived from their original stagings in New York and Lyon in the ’80s. Both pieces tackle dance, with a focus on the duo figure, at the crux of archetypal forms representative of the time.

Southern Exposure, produced by Durban’s Flatfoot Dance Company and choreographed by resident choreographer Lliane Loots, investigates dance, gender and South African customs and will be
on the Arena.

A prominent theme on the Fringe this year, the retelling of traditional stories in new ways is represented in former Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner for Dance, Mamela Nyamza’s Okuya Phantsi Kwempumlo/The Meal, which examines the process by which food becomes a meal. It is one of many productions exploring ritual and tradition, such as Intonjane by the Masonwabe Traditional Dance Company and Itshawe Ensemble by the Imbabala Cultural Group.

Two Fringe productions are dancing down rabbit-holes in adaptions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Starlight Studios from Cape Town presents a quirky, fun interpretation, while the UJ Arts and Culture dancers explore a darker
re-imagining of the tale in Alice Who? This Ain’t Wonderland.

For a highly athletic, classically-trained dance experience, be sure to catch the Cape Academy of Performing Arts’ Bliss! and the National School of the Arts’ production, Dance Spectrum.

-Chelsea Geach-

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