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Thursday, June 23, 2011


(Photo by Susanne Holbaek: Meagan Olivier, Angela Malan at the front with Jacqui Gruber and Lindé Wessels in “Ring On It”)

Dance lovers respond with enthusiastic applause to Mzansi's second production. (Review by Caroline Smart)

The Johannesburg-based Mzansi Productions is a dance company with a versatile performing style that ranges from the classic to the contemporary. Under the directorship of Dirk Badenhorst, Mzansi aims to be relevant in South Africa in the truest sense of the word with a style that addresses a wider market in South Africa and internationally.

KZN dance lovers were privileged to see Mzansi’s first production in KZN, Somebody to Love, at the iZulu Theatre at Sibaya last week. Tonight, with much appreciative applause, enthusiasts responded to the second production, Divas of Music and Dance, which has a short run at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. It pays tribute to such legends as Edith Piaf, Tina Turner, Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Rihanna and Mariah Carey and the first half of the show features screened images of divas “who have led the way” as Mari-Louise Basson describes the women who have inspired her riveting choreography.

The screen provides effective links such as crashing waves which introduced the hit from Titanic and the sequence on weather saw dancers moving gracefully like long-legged seabirds feeding on shorelines. A delightful short piece was performed to the words of Aretha Franklin.

While the show at Sibaya was good, except for the sound quality, Divas of Music and Dance is even more impressive. Thankfully, the sound at the Sneddon for this production is excellent which allows the dancing and the singing to merge into a well-balanced whole.

The better sound quality meant that soloists Anne-Marie Clulow and Shaun V could be fully appreciated and numbers between them were often electric, particularly Tell Him. Anne-Marie’s operatic range dazzled in My Heart Will Go On accompanying a beautiful adagio piece and Time to Say Goodbye, while Shaun V gave a compelling presentation of Beautiful with Craig Arnolds.

Other highlights were Hero with its controlled lifts suiting the soaring element of the song; the lively take on Respect; full-on female power mode for Ring On It, and I Will Always Love You with soloist Kitty Phetla providing an amusing denouement at the close.

After seeing them at Sibaya, there was much expectation to see Craig Arnolds and Michael Revie in their own number. We weren’t disappointed when it eventually came. They further proved their skills with some well-controlled leaps, lifts and a dramatic staged fall in the closing stages of the show.

This is a well-disciplined multi-skilled company and the dancers’ energy and joy of presentation is infectious. What a fantastic and highly valuable opportunity then, for the 15 Durban dancers who form the internship company working alongside the Mzansi group in these two productions.

The musical director is DuPreez Strauss and David Hutt’s costumes are elegant or funky as the style demands. As in the first show, Anneke Oosthuizen’s lighting design was striking without pulling focus from the performers.

Divas of Music and Dance runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre with shows until Friday at 19h30, Saturday at 14h30 and19h30 and Sunday at 14h30. Tickets R125 booked at Computicket. Don’t miss it! – Caroline Smart

Mzansi Productions receives funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.