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Friday, March 7, 2014


(Julia Wilson & Sifiso Majola)

Durban’s inimitable Flatfoot Dance Company begins its 11th year in 2014 with a full blown performance season of new dance works to lure, cajole, amuse and sheer-out entertain audiences.

Entitled fragile, this dance season takes place from March 12 to 15 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. It features the pairing up of long-time choreographic partners David Gouldie and Lliane Loots. Both of them have enjoyed two previous joint seasons together with Flatfoot Dance Company, the first of which (Premonitions) saw them being awarded the prestigious KZN DanceLink award for choreography.

While Gouldie and Loots have divergent choreographic styles and roots, the two have found a working synergy that speaks of mutual respect and a deep understanding of the need to truly honour the power of the South African dancing body to tell stories. fragile offers a contemplative and highly charged season of new dance theatre. With 20 years of democracy being celebrated, Gouldie and Loots, and the incomparable talent of the six resident Flatfoot dancers (Sifiso Khumlo, Tshediso Kabulu, Sifiso Majola, Jabu Siphika, Julia Wilson and Zinhle Nzama), begin to pick apart any grand images of rainbows and dive fearlessly into the personal and political waters of South Africa’s 20 years of good dreams and painful nightmares. 

Gouldie’s history is one flowing with a career in ballet and with a reputation for being the “naughty boy of South African Ballet”, Gouldie has never been shy of taking the form – so deeply loved – and twisting and tweaking it; sometimes violently and sometimes with such humour that audiences have laughed their way out of the auditorium. His theatrical flair has seen him recently choreograph some of South Africa’s national biggest musical successes, from Evita to High School Musical. He comes to this season with Flatfoot Dance Company with a dance theatre work unabashedly entitled dusting off my history. In a flourish of ironic and, at times, self-depreciating humour, Gouldie looks back to his own South African ballet and dance history - written on and with his body – in a dance work that appears quirky and humorous but which shifts like dark and faded images trapped in a broken antique mirror; a mirror Gouldie has never been afraid to turn on himself. Gouldie has the Flatfoot dancers embellishing all of his classical ballet history to the point of intense comedy, and then it takes a turn and the audience is left breathless as they glimpse a fragile and wounded heart trying so hard to find home.

Lliane Loots, artistic director and resident choreographer to Flatfoot, is no stranger to Durban audiences and has a reputation for offering slightly risky political dance theatre that has caused no end of ruckus these past 11 years of Flatfoot professional history. Her work has toured the world where her bold choreographic voice and vision for Flatfoot, has seen her and the company receive numerous international and local awards and commissions. Never shy to “tell it like it is”, Loots has recently started working on more personal and intimate dance journeys.

For the season fragile, Loots has created a work called the inheritance of loss which is a profound reflection of her own, and Flatfoot’s, history. Rather than a single narrative or story, the inheritance of loss, offers small fragmented moments of personal and political history and memory. When woven together on the stage, they offer a ruminating internal monologue. Edging close to sadness, fragility and loss, this dance work is, ultimately - like all art - an act of love that asks if more is possible? While this is a brooding work, Loots reminds us that the ability to use our art to go to difficult places and ask hard questions is – in the end – the triumph of 20 years of democracy.

Exulting the six resident Flatfoot dancers Loots says, “my dance work would not be possible without the input of the Flatfoot dancers. Not only is it their bodies that get on stage and defend my choreographic visions and dreams, but working with them is a profound negotiation of the histories we wish to tell, those forgotten and those unspoken. I rely on them to be my internal compass when we make work together; they are quick to remind me to question and to ask me why – what a glorious gift for an artist”.

the inheritance of loss also features Loots in collaboration once again with local Durban filmmaker Karen Logan. Logan has worked alongside Loots for over six years on various dance theatre works and brings with her a filmic sensitivity that layers Loots’s dance visions.

Supported by project funding from the National Arts Council of South Africa, fragile runs from March 12 to 16 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre with shows at 19h30 each evening and a 15h00 matinee on March 16. Tickets range from R60 to R85 and booking is at Computicket.

Thursday’s performance (March 13 at 19h30) features a special after show Dance Talks Back hosted by awarding-winning arts journalist Adrienne Sichel in conversations with Loots, Gouldie and the dancers. This is a unique opportunity to listen to the dancers and choreographers unpack and answer questions about their work. Sichel comes to Durban as a guest from The Ar(t)chive at the Wits School of Arts.