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Sunday, January 18, 2015


If pictures speak louder than words, then this publication represents an entire library! (Review by Caroline Smart)

I Praise the Dance, an impressive publication celebrating contemporary dance, is produced by the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA) and made possible by support from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.

The book was compiled by Michael Britton, PANSA’s National Administrator and an author and editor, and Kurt Egelhof, PANSA’s National Co-ordinator who is also an actor and producer. PANSA’S thinking was that, because they are not dancers, they would bring a refreshing approach to the project, unbiased towards any particular dance community. The aim of the PANSA board was to applaud the country’s dance artists for their contribution to the fabric of the South African nation.

“We wanted to include quotes about dance: quotes from poets, philosophers and dancers,” Britton says.

Egelhof explains: “When we found the poem by St Augustine, I Praise the Dance, we knew that we had found the scaffold around which our book would be built. We picked stanzas of about two to three lines to frame each chapter. We chose key words and phrases in the poem which became the guidelines for photograph selection.”

The honours undoubtedly go to the marvellous photographic content of the book. If pictures speak louder than words, then this publication represents an entire library!

Obviously, my focus is on KwaZulu-Natal and I was disappointed not to see more information on highly successful local dance companies such as Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre, the Flatfoot Dance Company or the Playhouse Resident Dance Company which have achieved international acclaim.

However, as dance guru Fred Hagemann, Professor Emeritus of the University of Pretoria, states in his foreword: “I Praise the Dance does not attempt to offer an all-inclusive and complete historical record of South African dance. It is neither didactic, nor prescriptive, and does not try to direct the reader towards a particular dance aesthetic or philosophy. Instead, it celebrates the diversity, magnificence, beauty and power of South African dance and offers the reader a glimpse of the ways in which bodies play with space, time, energy and flow, and how the dancers merge with the dance.”

Don’t get me wrong, KZN is definitely represented. There are stunning pics by Val Adamson, an acknowledged eThekwini Living Legend - who often creates magic by making the mundane look spectacular - as well as chapters and coverage of their work of dancers and choreographers Musa Hlatshwayo and Mlekelele Kuzwayo.

This publication will inspire up-and-coming dancers and choreographers as well as photographers.

Books are available at R285 for the public (R140 paid-up PANSA members). These prices exclude postage and packaging. Visit - Caroline Smart