national Arts Festival Banner

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Well-trained and disciplined group presents thought-provoking work at the Rickshaw Collective. (Review by Caroline Smart)

With support from the National Arts Council, the KwaMashu School of Dance Theatre presented its production Imagination Thought choreographed and directed by Vusi Makhanya at the Rickshaw Collective on February 27.

The Rickshaw Collective is an artists collaboration in Durban that offers training, rehearsal and performance opportunities. Its aim is to tap into Durban’s unacknowledged resources and creative innovative work.

Set in Precinct 106, this is a fascinating venue. One of those old buildings tucked away below Sydney Road, it is dilapidated with peeling paint revealing the solid brickwork underneath. The building is solidly-built and just in need of some renovating care.

Off-road parking on site is protected by a security gate. Two flights of narrow staircase take you up to the welcoming Rickshaw Collective Space – a vast room which was divided into two for the purpose of Imagination Thought with the performance area at the far end. Chairs, fabric covered seating benches and cushions on the floor gave a welcoming and offbeat look. There is minimal but effective lighting with the added use of gels creating mood atmospheres.

The simple set comprises a structure of black catering crates where the  is casually seated as the audience moves in. One by one they rise and move around the stage area - looking around – perhaps for something or someone, each member of the company having the opportunity to have a solo moment. The traffic, trains or distant sound of shipping in the harbour barely intrude.

The females are in loose tunics while the men are more power-dressed with red bowties, black pants and variously structured waistcoats. This imbalance reflects a strong element of the piece which is well represented in the words of the main character who is a young woman: “You have turned me into a prisoner in my own body. Why do you have to win all the time? This is my own life. I’m taking back my freedom.”  This was a strong all-round performance in dance, speech and song by Nombuso Ratsha with equal support from Nolwazi Majola and Zimbili Hlongwane. Notable male dancers were Scelo Mthethwa and Mthokozisi Mkhwanazi and there were some highly impressive moves from the men.

The rest of the company comprises Sinenhlanhla Sihlangu, Anele Makanya, Mpume Mdlalose, Nondumiso Kheswa, Njabulo Zulu, Wandile Nodliwa and Zwelakhe Vilakazi. This group, which represents the senior company of the KwaMashu School of Dance Theatre is well trained and disciplined and Imagination Thought is a good showcase for their abilities.

The focus on amagende, the township stone game, saw the characters starting off their placings with care and thought. This then progressed through frenetic activity until something tangibly precious was acquired and held protectively in their hands.

Speech is becoming more and more a part of dance and dance companies need to take cognisance of this in terms of training dancers to be as articulate in voice and they are in body. Often, important information was lost through lack of vocal clarity and projection.

All tickets sold for this production contributed to the Acting for Rhinos Trust. Vusi Makhanya is hoping to take the production to other venues but it will be going to schools. For more information contact him on 082 622 4005 or visit the KwaMashu School of Dance Theatre on Facebook.

The Rickshaw Collective is situated at Precinct 106, 106 Williams Road, now Khuzimpi Shezi Road. For more information contact Shelby Strange on email or or join the Facebook group of The Rickshaw Collective. – Caroline Smart