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Tuesday, August 26, 2014


(Njabulo Zungu; Sweetness Ngobese & Nqubeko Ngema. Pic by Val Adamson)

A good chance to see the dancers of tomorrow. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Attending the opening night of Reunion, directed by Mdu Mtshali, provided my first chance to see the newly-renovated Courtyard Theatre at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and what a transformation it is! First of all, the courtyard approach to the theatre has been cleared and can now be used as an outdoor performance space. The stage has elegant curtains and the auditorium has been revamped and boasts new seating and carpeting.

Reunion forms part of the 2014 Annual Season of Contemporary Dance, which has another vital meaning in that it pays tribute to Professor Debbie Lutge. HOD of DUT’s Drama and Production Studies Department, she has been a major role player for 25 years.

Professor Brian Pearce, long-term colleague and Acting Deputy Dean of Arts and Design, paid tribute in an eloquent speech to Lutge’s passionate commitment to nurturing students to the point where they can confidently enter the world of professional theatre.

Last night, however, there were a few glitches in terms of lengthy delays due to technical problems but once the programme got started, it offered a great evening of dance from choreographers Mdu Mtshali, Sifiso Majola, Mlekeleli Khuzwayo and Sifiso Khumalo.

The first two pieces are performed outside on the newly-cleared courtyard which had been equipped with dance matting. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the palm trees on the balmy evening it was, this offers a great performance venue. The works are So tell me father and The Gift, by Mdu Mtshali, the latter featuring some spectacular lifts 
If you have a back problem and can’t stand for long, like me, get there early so you can have a seat in the covered verandah area.

The audience then moves into the theatre for the rest of the programme which includes Beautiful Life, a further work choreographed by Mdu Mtshali. The other pieces are the thought-provoking Listening by Sfiso Majola, Undefined by Sifiso “Kitsona” Khumalo which was full of varying moods and messages and Mlekeleli Khuzwayo’s Remix which included much comedy and energy and received rapturous response from the near-capacity audience.

Notable performances come from Anathi Gobeni, Lungani Mabaso, Siziwe Zonke Mchunu, Soyiso Ndaba, Nqubeko Ngema and Njabulo Zungu. In Remix, Andile Khanyase delighted with his comedy skills under the steely eye of Sweetness Ngobese as the supervisor.

It’s a hard-working ensemble of 2nd and 3rd year students, some of whom appear in two or more pieces. The standard is high and this is a good chance to see the dancers of tomorrow.

I’m sure the technical problems will have been ironed out by tonight’s performance although I would suggest that the sound levels need attention. When music becomes too loud, it just becomes a noise and not the supporting element it should be.

Reunion runs until August 28 at 19h00 in The Courtyard Theatre, Mansfield Road, DUT. For more information or to book tickets contact 031 373 2194. – Caroline Smart