Posts Tagged ‘contemporary dance’

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Broken glass bottles litter the stage as a mixed group of local dancers embody the spirit of outsider artist Helen Martins. The spectacle included Grand Jetés, marvellous lifts, a mixture of fast and slow movements and grotesque facial expressions. The result was a spectacle almost as mesmerising as Helen Martin’s owl house.

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Dancers weave inside and out of the space , each contorting their bodies like the rapids moving along the Nile river. They are both together and alone, moving, yet freezing in the same motion. NILE, a collaborative piece, is accompanied to the haunting chords of Sir Richard Bishop’s guitar.

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Arts journalist Adrienne Sichel says pantsula is “very much an urban South African dance form”. Pantsula is the language of the township. Complicated rhythmic formations, gangster swagger and tsotsitaal (scamto) make up the vocabulary of this edgy dance form. Dressed in Converse All Star sneakers, the Poetic Ankles Mapantsula group showcase their fast-paced and complicated pantsula routines in Dlala Majimbozi. The group, part of the Ikhaya Theatre Company, is the oldest pantsula group in Grahamstown.

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Instead of being mere witnesses to art, festivalgoers can this year take part in the creation of an innovative installation. Conceived by French choreographer Bernardo Montet, Keeping Watch in Movement aims to create an ongoing chain of human movement which will remain unbroken for eight hours.

The idea behind this work is fairly simple: the action will take place in an “intimate space” where two people will share a moment. For a maximum of 10 minutes, the movements of one person will be observed by the other. The observer will then become the mover, who will be replaced by another observer, and so on. These alternating roles of movement and observation will create an “unbroken chain of interaction”. Montet insists the essence of the project is simply for participants to experience their own presence in the world of interactive and collaborative movement.

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No special skills are required to participate and the choice of movement will be left entirely up to participants. Dance is only one of the forms of movement through which one may choose to express oneself. The project ran for an unbroken three days and nights in Tours, France, last year.

“It’s very exciting for me to experience this project here because there is a lot of energy around before the act itself,” says Montet. “I feel very privileged to experience this here; to make contact with different cultures, ways of thinking and ways of considering dance and the other.” Montet is also performing in the solo Batracien, l’aprés-midi at the festival.

The captivating performance by Amagugu Amatsha musical group could give Ladysmith Black Mambazo a run for their money. Through a fusion of soulful contemporary dance and song Amagugu touch on relevant issues affecting ordinary South Africans like crime, love and relationships and spirituality; their energetic display kept the audience on the edge of their seats calling for more.

ONE of the reasons why contemporary dance has a bad reputation for the audience on the street is because it tends to be overtly abstract, obscure and conceptual. It’s a reputation it earned for itself from the Seventies, when the discipline was neo-natal and artists were consumed with what they imagined was expected of them. Audiences were seduced or cowed into believing or making believe that these ostensibly deep and apparently deeply intelligent pieces were moving them in one way or another. It had to do with modernist snobbery and one-upmanship. We don’t have to do this, though.

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