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Wednesday, January 20, 2016


(Participants of Musa Hlatshwayo's Movement Laboratory. Pic by Val Adamson)

After suffering the consequences of the shutting down of Stable Theatre for renovations last year together with the limitations of ‘spaces’ that are supportive of movement and dance development for non profit-making purposes, The Movement Laboratory has finally found a home at the Durban Art Gallery.

The Movement Laboratory is a movement and dance development initiative founded and directed by award-winning dancer and choreographer Musa Hlatshwayo with the primary intention of fostering a free platform for young artists and the arts community interested in the medium of movement and dance wherein participants can gather, share and exchange ideas, knowledge, skills and information while learning in a creative and fun environment.

The approach of the Movement Lab (as it is known) is based on offering participants technique classes, creative movement tasks and tools, performance opportunities, discussion sessions on theories and working methodologies while working towards showcasing and staging performance works. In the process, participants gain tools and methods that they can they use to challenge and improve their craft under a laboratory ‘peer mentorship’ setting facilitated by Hlatshwayo himself.

This is also a creative space where participants are required to experiment with movement, ideas, theories, concepts, philosophies and methodologies while scrutinizing and exploring possibilities of movement as the language of creative physical expression which when stylized then translates into different dance styles.

In the past, participants have included students and graduates of the creative/performing arts from various local training institutions, scholars and educators whose syllabus might include dramatic arts, actors and directors who want to further their movement knowledge and technique. These classes are also for members of the general public who simply love and appreciate movement and dance and want to start training towards improving their health if not train towards becoming performing artists themselves.

“Although informal and ‘open’ in its policies, the programme involves intensive training that is principle-driven and goal-orientated with the participants pushing and challenging themselves as much as they care to,” explains Hlatshwayo. “We currently boast a number of success stories of different kinds with a variety of actors, dancers, directors and film makers who are now well-known and established who either started their training with us or have gone through the programme to enhance their training and other various reasons.

“Part of  training also features excursions that might include attending performances, workshops, exhibitions and other relevant events and activities that form part of our personal and artistic development,’ Hlatshwayo continues. “We also host workshop residencies over a period of two to three weeks at least three times a year during school holidays where various activities take place.”

Classes take place every Saturday from 10h00 until 14h00 from January 23 at the Durban Art Gallery at the City Hall Museum opposite the Playhouse Company at the CBD in Gallery 2, on the 2nd floor.

10h00 to 11h30: Technique class
12h00 to 13h45: Creative choreographic task or creative exploration session
13h45 to 14h00: Individual cool down or a short discussion seminar or one on one mentorship session

Participants are required to bring movement clothes that are suitable for gym and dance. No jeans, smart/formal pants or skirts will be allowed. Jewellery and shoes are also not allowed. Participation is open to anyone over the age of 10 who wants to explore their movement at no charge. No prior dance training is required. Participants are advised to bring a hand towel, a bottle of water and a light snack. No previous dance experience is needed.

This initiative is largely administered through Facebook and whatsapp. Participants are therefore requested to join our Facebook group; The Movement Laboratory, and they are urged to keep a close eye on the group's wall for announcements, frequent updates, group wall discussions and any other relevant information. Contact telephone numbers will be taken during Saturday classes and participants will then be added into the whatsapp group.

The Movement Laboratory is an initiative of Mhayise Productions. “We are grateful to the management and the staff of the Durban Art Gallery together with the Ethekwini Municipality for welcoming us into the space. We are looking forward to welcoming our members who are returning and the new members who will be joining us for the first time.,” says Hlatshwayo.