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Monday, November 3, 2008



DUT dance programme directed by Mdu Mtshali involves choreography by Musa Hlatshwayo, Sanele Mzinyane and Neliswa Rushualang. (Review by Siza Mthembu)

The Durban University of Technology’s Drama department (now know as the Department Of Television Drama And Productions Studies), has always produced work of a high quality and Light of Hope is no exception.

Inspired by real events and current political situations in the whole of Africa. Mdu Mtshali explains in his directorial notes how xenophobic attacks have left thousands of men and woman homeless with no shelter. Mdu has collaborated with three well-known choreographers of Durban: Musa Hlatshwayo, who holds a BA honours from UKZN; Neliswa Rushualang, one of the co-founders of Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre which always produce good work, and Sanele Mzinyane who is a lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Piece one by Sanele Mzinyane: The Black Box. The audience is introduced to Durban streets and the way of living. On stage are a few dancers trapped in boxes, others sighted, others carrying on with daily chores. Centre stage is the main man in the street, played by Brian Khawula who gives a good performance with discipline and exceptional energy. Sanele chose to use Yeh Yeh by Lira as his background music. It would have been nice to see him use Durban music so that it compliments the dance.

Piece Two by Mdu Mtshali: Songs. A breathtaking performance and in this piece one could sense that all styles of dance were included and the dancers handled them with care and pride. The dance begins with Mthandazo Mofokeng and Dhiya Bahadur dancing in a circle doing a fusion of African and Indian dance. They are both trapped in this circle trying to find their goals in life, we then moved to an exceptional duet by Thobani and Mthandazo (look out for him). I have always been concerned about the limitation of styles in the Drama Department but this year it was good to see Indlamu, Ingoma, ishiyamen fused in the piece, we them moved isXhosa ceremony representing the return of amadoda (real man) one must compliment the lighting in the piece. Good and clean choreography – well-done to Mdu and the dancers.

Piece Three: Tribe of legends. Musa Hlatshwayo has always impressed Durban audiences both as a dancer and a choreographer. In this piece, he explores the resurfacing of a metaphorical tribe of unsung legends. Inspired by his personal journeys to places like Europe and America, the piece begins with Marcia Mzindle who looked unbalanced and unfocused (possibly first night nerves?) we then see Thomas Mpuleng a former student of this institution and now a voice lecturer giving us the benefit of a good stage presence. The Courtyard Theatre has limited lighting equipment – however, Musa managed to create good visual effects and the whole piece is lit by a car parked in a loading bay. Noticeable performances came from Zinhle Mkhize, Ntando Mncube, Wonder boy Kakole and Sandra Magwaza.

We then moved to a ridiculous wait which is very embarrassing we see students cleaning the stage others shouting and screaming as part of the scene changes.

Piece Four: Sizalwe ngobani. This begins with Andile Mdletshe doing a poem with Sheila Madiya singing an Italian song, perhaps Madeline Tzankonva (singing and voice lecturer) to help with the voices. The piece talks about the empowerment of women and how we should acknowledge and appreciate South African women, Neliswa introduces Siwela Sonke dancers Sibusiso Gasa and Mxolisi Nkomonde who end up upstaging the students. There is also the use of water on stage and considering the presence of lights and dance mats – this can be very dangerous.

South Africa has passed the stage of xenophobic attacks and we are still trying to digest the change in government. This comes to the fore this season.

Light of Hope runs at the Courtyard Theatre from October 1 to 4 at 19h00. Tickets R15 at the door - Siza Mthembu

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