Dance Umbrella takes off

 

DeApartHate_photo Oscar oRyan_

ON STAGE: Mamela Nyamza presents her latest piece De-Apart-Hate at this year’s Dance Umbrella photo: Supplied

The 29th edition of the annual Dance Umbrella festival has launched at the Wits Theatre Complex and will run until Sunday, March 5.

The festival is showcasing over 50 new works, 13 commissioned works, six Johannesburg South African premieres and a Master Class programme conducted by prominent choreographers.

“It’s hard to say which shows visitors should see,” said Artistic Director Georgina Thomson about the shows to be presented during the 10 day festival.

“I think people should just have an adventure and see what they fancy,” she said. And there is quite a lot to fancy in this year’s festival.

On Friday, February 24 and Saturday 25 at 19:00, Moeketsi Koena and Gaby Saranouffi present Corps at the Wits Downstairs Theatre. Corps explores the transporting links that connect the real and the unreal through photography and dance and creates a link between today’s world and the past through the ancestral history of South Africa, Madagascar and France.

At the Wits Amphitheatre, on the same days, but at 21:00, Cape Town-born director, choreographer and activist, Mamela Nyamza, presents her acclaimed De-Apart-Hate The work deals with the struggles of post-apartheid South Africa as a nation, but doesn’t dwell on race.

Also worth looking out for is choreographer Rudi van der Merwe’s installation work, Trophée, on Saturday and Sunday, February 25 and 26 at 15:00 at the National School of the Arts (NSA) in Braamfontein. This show is an outdoor performance with emphasis on visual and land art. The title alludes to references about the submission of women – as trophy wives – and the submission of nature –hunting trophies – as part of tools of war throughout history.

On Tuesday, February 28 and Wednesday, March 1 the Wits Theatre will showcase a triple bill featuring the work of Oscar Buthelezi, Sonny Boy Motau and Lulu Mlangeni. Buthelezi’s Stuck Souls reflects on the world today being lost in waste and it asks the question: “How do we stop this?” Motau’s I am Not speaks to self-discovery and venturing into new and unknown spaces within ourselves: both body and mind. Vuyani Dance Theatre’s Lulu Mlangeni will premiere her new work, Shift.

A series of master classes will take place from Saturday, February 25 until March 4 at the Dance Space in Newtown.

The festival closes on March 5 at 14:30 at the Wits Theatre, with Cape Town choreographer Kirvan Fortuin’s When they Leave, a technical and high-pitched show that explores the narrative of race between white and coloured people.

Tickets range from R20 to R120 and are available at www.computicket.com. For the full Dance Umbrella 2017 programme, updates on the Master Classes and Face to Face interviews please visit www.danceforumsouthafrica.co.za.

Dancer not in the dark

PHYSICAL DANCING: Sthembiso Khalishwayo, recently choreographed a piece of physical theatre at the Dance Umbrella’s Young Choreographers programme, called The Life I Lived. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

PHYSICAL DANCING: Sthembiso Khalishwayo, recently choreographed a piece
of physical theatre at the Dance Umbrella’s Young Choreographers programme,
called The Life I Lived. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg

Sthembiso  Khalishwayo grew up being told stories by his mother and in particular one about a fearsome snake on a mountain. But unlike other children Khalishwayo was not afraid, but rather intrigued as he wanted to climb this mountain and find the snake. It was this adventurous spirit that helped shape him into a choreographer and performer who wants to help others tell their own stories.

“That snake on the mountain top is that one thing I’m trying to find, that drama that I want to see happen in South Africa,” said Khalishwayo, MA in Applied Theatre.

Khalishwayo recently choreographed a physical theatre piece for the 2015 Dance Umbrella’s Young Choreographers platform. The work, titled The Life I Lived, is the journey of a 27-year-old man that explores the stories which unfold around us and affect the stories that we tell.

“As South Africans regardless of race we are born with stories being told to us … These stories are a fundamental piece of who we are,” explains Khalishwayo.

He is not only passionate about helping others find their voice but also teaching. Khalishwayo hopes that in the future children will be exposed to dance and physical theatre at schools.

Listening to the stories of others is what helped him create his productions, which he hopes will encourage others to find their own voice. This includes the tough issues such as women abuse which is depicted through gesture and movement in his production.

“For me that is a very important topic because I’ve known so many women that have gone through that … and the only way I can show their stories is through drama and theatre.”

Khalishwayo hopes the production will have a therapeutic effect and may encourage others to speak out.

He is not only passionate about helping others find their voice but also teaching. Khalishwayo hopes that in the future children will be exposed to dance and physical theatre at schools.

“If we don’t do those things then physical theatre and dance will fall away to the side and we will lose an important aspect of the arts,” he said.

Khalishwayo was first inspired to begin his journey to the mountian of being a peformer whilst singing in his primary school choir. He later developed a knack for acting in high school. But his appetite for dance only flourished while studying Physical Theatre and performance at Wits. The production, titled Touch and choreographed by Athena Mazarakis, was the first physical theatre production he saw which ignited his desire to be a choreographer.

“If we don’t do those things then physical theatre and dance will fall away to the side and we will lose an important aspect of the arts.”

Since then Khalishwayo has created over 25 productions and worked with industry professionals, including PJ Sabbagha, Gregory Maqoma, Nadine Joseph, Bailey Snyman and Tracy Human. He has many aspirations for the future and many snakes on many mountains to find, owning his own dance company, running a theatre and a school of arts.

The curtain comes down and the story is told but Khalishwayo will continue to look for that snake hiding on top of every mountain.