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Sunday, October 5, 2008


Energetic batch of second and third-year dance major students display work of four of Durban’s well-known choreographers. (Review by Rowin Munsamy)

The Courtyard Theatre housed 2008’s Annual Dance Drama Evenings for the Drama Studies Department at Durban University of Technology. Titled Light of Hope, it was directed by Mdu Mtshali

An energetic batch of second and third year dance major students displayed the work of four of Durban’s well-known choreographers: Mdu Mtshali, Musa Hlatshwayo, Neliswa Rushualang and Sanele Mzinyane. The mixture of wheat flour, milk and pulsating bodies made for some visually stimulating moments on stage.

The first half of the programme featured the second year students with Choreography by Sanele Mzinyane (The Black box) and Mdu Mtshali (Songos). The two pieces worked well to highlight the strengths of these young dancers. Mzinyane’s choreography, while telling a story through simple movement and gestures, spoke about too many political matters concurrently. A little more focus was needed in terms of the message being told. Mtshali’s choreography lifted in energy, in that more risks were being taken in choreographic choices. The students in both pieces, too many to mention individually, worked well together as a unit and some took the opportunity to dazzle as individuals. Both Choreographers in the first half could have spent a little more time and detail on costume and lighting choices.

The second half of the evening, boasted the talents of the third year class. Neliswa Rushualang’s kanti Sizalwa Ngobani Na?, presented a pregnant woman representing the mother that we all have. This rhythmically diverse and sound choreographic work displayed Traditional, Shembe, Modern Ballet and other contemporary forms of dance to speak of the strength of women- mothers. Some of the movement was pleasing to watch, but I would have like to see the DUT students being used more effectively in the work; but it is too late to cry over ‘spilt milk’. The interlude during the set change, the interaction between two students pretending to be ‘cleaners auditioning’ was one of the highlights of the evening. These two songbirds were powerful.

The last work (that forgotten imaginary) Tribe of Legends, choreographed by Musa Hlatshwayo, was evocative and challenging, but it felt as though the choreography was a little too much for these training dancers and it went on for too long. The story, even with the false endings, was exciting and physically evocative. Despite the few odd, unfinished, steps the students did very well to form a group dynamic that was unquestionable. The costume choice, for both these works, enhanced the look and feel of the movement and the stories being told.

The programme offered, was messy but entertaining. There is some wonderful talent brewing at DUT’s Drama Department, and I look forward to following their careers. – Rowin Munsamy