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Sunday, December 9, 2012


 (Pic by Val Adamson)
Triumphant first collaboration between Flatfoot Dance Company and Stable Theatre. (Review by Caroline Smart)

When I first started to review contemporary dance, I did it with great trepidation as my dance background in my early days was ballet. In response to my question some years back after a particular production as to “what did the production mean?”, choreographer David Gouldie responded: “it doesn’t have to “mean” anything – it’s about a feeling, a mood, a journey …” Those guidelines have stood me in good stead in what I hope have been reviews that give a layman’s viewpoint of contemporary dance works to encourage people to attend. I don’t presume to preach to the converted. I try to get new converts!

Flatfoot Dance Company has brought its latest work utalago/horizon to Stable Theatre where its all-too-short season finishes this afternoon.

This is a first for Stable Theatre and Flatfoot and hopefully the beginning of a long-term association. It also offers encouragement to potential outside hirers to use this revamped venue. (Just for the record, I say this wearing my cap as a Stable Theatre board member!)

That aside, tonight’s performance proved that it is a beautiful space for contemporary dance with its spacious performance area and capacity to provide excellent mood lighting.  Lighting designers Clare Craighead and Tina le Roux have used this capacity to the fullest.

Directed by Flatfoot’s artistic director, Lliane Loots, utalago/horizon is choreographed by Sifiso Kitsona Khumalo who has been a part of Flatfoot for over seven of its nearly ten years. He describes his work as starting off with a group of travellers setting out on a journey together and the various shifts in relationship as the time progresses.

The journey begins with a vibrant and pulsating drumming introduction by Flatfoot’s long-time musical partners, Mandla Matsha and Njabulo Shabalala, who continue to underscore the piece. However, this is not simply underscoring but engaging-as-one with the dancers in a truly impressive collaboration.

The first dancer to appear is Sifiso Majola who enters in dramatic lighting as if seen from afar through a television camera lens: crouched and small, gradually unfolding as he approaches. In the process, his shadow – which grows to gargantuan proportions – overpowers him. Shadow play forms a strong part of this production, offering a moody and spiritual presence.

Soon the stage is filled with the rest of the award-winning resident dancers of Flatfoot: Tshediso Kabulu, Julia Wilson, Lerato Lipere and Khumalo himself. With a strong use of bent elbows and hands, at times they appear to be ominous eagles or carefree seagulls as per the prevailing mood.

This is an energised and extremely physically demanding work and the dancers were utterly focused throughout.

Presented in association with Stable Theatre, Flatfoot’s utalagu/horizon has one more performance at Stable Theatre tomorrow (December 9 at 15h00). The performance lasts for an hour. Tickets R50 (R30 scholars, students and OAP) available at the door from one hour before performance. – Caroline Smart

(NB: Stable Theatre is a safe and easily accessible venue (check the website for directions There is free parking on site with a security guard at the gate. I live close to Entabeni Hospital and – as an exercise – I timed myself tonight to see how long it took me to get home. Within four minutes, I was on the Western Freeway; three minutes later at Tollgate Bridge, and three minutes later I was driving into my garage – total time of 10 minutes!)