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Friday, July 16, 2010


(Pic by Val Adamson: Mlondolozi Zondi as he appeared in Flatfoot’s previous season “Talking Spirits”)

Contemporary dance lovers and those who appreciate excellence in difficult spaces shouldn’t miss this one. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Taking its title from the venue in which it is being performed, The Breathing Space in Bulwer Road, this dance work resonates with the passions of love, rejection, jealousy and the anger of abandonment while desperately seeking an internal space within to cope with the way forward. It’s a fascinating emotional journey through the various outside and inner areas of this beautiful building – an inspired setting!

private BREATHING spaces is a restless, edgy work directed by Lliane Loots of the Flatfoot Dance Company whose members have collectively choreographed the piece. The performers are Sifiso Khumalo, S’fiso Magesh Ngcobo, Mlondolozi (Mlondi) Zondi, Jabu Siphika and Thobeka (Teekay) Quvane. Hosting the journey with narration and song is Fulbright Scholar Sinethemba Makanya from UKZN Pietermaritzburg. Would we could see more of her dramatic talents on the Durban stage.

There are five sections. The Garden of Earthly delights with text by e.e. cummings starts in the small garden with effective lighting bringing the lush foliage into focus, the driveway gravel crunching under the dancers’ feet adding a further dimension. Part Two - Saying grace and being thankful for what exactly?, takes place on and around a sturdy old table.

Part Three - Wait while I slumber because love comes too quickly and too viciously sometimes … with text by Jeanette Winterson is the next step of the journey in another room before the audience is ushered into the largest area for Betrayal that looks in (and out) finding community again after a long, long isolation with text by Lliane Loots. Part Five brings the performance to a close in the tiny area between the front door and the street.

private BREATHING spaces offers an effective vehicle for each dancer’s strengths. Sifiso Khumalo‘s proud bearing and command belies his capacity of portraying deep emotion. S’fiso Magesh Ngcobo is compelling with his vigour and focus. Jabu Siphika always impresses with her serenity and inner strength. The two new members - Mlondi Zondi and Teekay Quvane - are equally impressive. Fine dancers both, Mlondi has strong dramatic skills while the smallest nuance of emotion can be read on Teekay’s expressive face.

Never mind the challenges to the dancers, site-specific work is difficult to light – we aren’t talking comfortable stage technicals here with overhead lighting bars to focus lights in different areas – so all credit to Clare Craighead for her design.

Contemporary dance lovers and those who appreciate excellent performances in difficult spaces shouldn’t miss this one. As opposed to a normal stage performance – the dancers can’t dictate to the area, the area dictates to them. It’s a major challenge – the spaces vary in size and versatility and there are walls, windows, tables – never mind audience members – to negotiate. For the audience, it’s a chance to become one with the performance. I was within inches of Sifiso Khumalo at one point and almost able to hear the control and contracting of muscles as he moved ever-so slowly past me.

private BREATHING spaces has only two more performances on July 17 and 18 at 19h00. Audience places are limited to a maximum of 40 per performance. If the night air is cool or you’re fighting colds and flu, don’t forget to take a jacket as certain parts of the performance take place outdoors. Tickets R80. Booking is essential and can be done through Clare on 082 875 6065 or email: A cash bar is available.

The Breathing Space is situated in Bulwer Road opposite the KZNSA Gallery. Flatfoot Dance Company’s work is made possible with funding from the South African National Arts Council and HIVOS. – Caroline Smart