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Monday, August 13, 2012


(Resident Playhouse Dancers. Back: Nkululeko Ntombela; Karabo Maithufi; Leagan Peffer; Rachel Abrahams; Sandile Mbili and Kurt Marais with Zinhle Gumede; Nkanyiso Kunene and TK Quvane in the front row. Pic by Val Adamson)

No better way to end the run of SAWAF. (Review by Mary Ann Salvage)

There was no better way to end the run of the South African Women’s Arts Festival held annually at the Playhouse than with this aptly named Celebration of Dance! Three performances in two days could easily have been extended to a week’s run.

The first half saw a slick and polished Break-Thru Dance Company performing a range of works in Beyond Breaking Pointe from break dancing to ballet, jazz and krump. One piece in particular stood out for me. It was beautifully choreographed by Director and Head Choreographer, Taryn Makaab, to an equally beautiful piece of music from the composer, Piazzolla. I felt this classical ballet piece should have been performed on Pointe to further extend the dancers and perhaps more interesting costumes could have been used. There were also a few hiccoughs experienced in the linking of all the dance numbers but clever and effective use of projection on the cyclorama kept the audience entertained.

Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come in the second half of the programme! Worlds Apart, choreographed by the iconic Adele Blank in collaboration with the nine resident Playhouse Dancers, was a powerful, emotional, fun, humorous and riveting piece. The dancers, Rachel Abrahams, Zinhle Gumede, Nkanyiso Kunene, Kurt Marais, Karabo Maithufi, Sandile Mbili, Nkululeko Ntombela, Leagan Peffer and Thobeka Quvane, all accomplished performers from different dance backgrounds, showed their versatility and stretched their bodies to the limit. I was deeply moved by their huge commitment on stage. It was “goose bumps stuff”.

Voice-overs by Gcina Mhlophe were used to help tell the story, of which some include, Wherever you are, be true to where you come from and Bring back the joy of being human, ending with my favourite, Art is the only vessel that carries Ubuntu from my heart to yours. There were so many unexpected surprises, one being the use of four lengthy amounts of suspended fabric on which the dancers very bravely swung into the audience! Rope climbing, a waterfall feature, billowing fabric and incredible use of props. Pure theatre!

Congratulations to Lighting Designer, Richard Parker for his innovative and brilliant lighting designs for the entire dance programme. This highly talented man, an artist in his own right, completed the theatrics of each dance piece. Lighting for dance is not easy as the dancers are constantly in motion thereby creating shadows. A true professional with his expertise, Parker handled this with ease.

As the first performance of the Playhouse Dance Residency, I certainly hope and pray that this group of highly gifted dancers continue to grow into a dance company with an appointed leader who has the courage and vision to uplift the status of dance to the height it so richly deserves in KwaZulu-Natal. - Mary Ann Salvage