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Tuesday, March 29, 2016


(Iona Wait, Sanele Maphumulo, Sifiso Khumalo, Jabu Siphika, Tshediso Kabulu, Zinhle Nzama & Kirsty Ndawo. Pic by Val Adamson)

Flatfoot Dance Company, offer a new season of dance work from April 6 to 10 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Provocatively titled Homeland, this season sees long-time friends and dance making colleagues Lliane Loots and Sbonakaliso Ndaba join choreographic forces once again. These two formidable award-winning South African choreographers last worked together in 2005 on a dance work poetically titled Side by Sid” for the Playhouse Women’s Arts Festival.

Artistic director of Flatfoot, Loots says; “Sbo is like family to me, a sister, and so the chance to sit in a rehearsal space and work with her again feels like an enormous artistic and personal gift. We work very differently and make very different work aesthetically and I love this – I am pushed and forced to re-evaluate what I create”.

Guest choreographer to Flatfoot, Ndaba says, “coming back to Durban and to Flatfoot is like a home-coming to me. This is one of the first companies I created work with as a young independent choreographer and I am very excited to be invited back. The Flatfoot studio still has my ancestors and so I am going to greet them again and work with some familiar and wonderful Durban dancers”.

Homeland offers two works separated by a short interval. Both Loots and Ndaba have chosen to work on the evocative title of Homeland and given the recent xenophobic attacks, the continued rise of racism on social media, and the huge increasinglevels of gender violence, both choreographers begin to look into the meaning of home. Interestingly enough, and despite the painful political and social backdrop of current South Africa, both choreographers have moved into the deeply personal and deeply interior landscapes of “homeland” so that the dance theatre works on offer move into spaces of resistance and affirmations of self. The work is strangely gentle, strangely feminine and very beautiful; it is as if these two women artist have fought against the violence and terror inherent in the contemporary body and found another language to speak truth to power.

The first work is crafted by Sbonakaliso Ndaba and is a powerhouse of African contemporary dance rhythms that sees Ndaba’s indomitable style of energy and declaration take root with the six resident Flatfoot dancers. Ndaba says, “Homeland for me speaks about where I come from, where my umbilical cord lies, where I speak my mother tongue with pride and no fear of shame. Homeland is where my great great grandmothers fought wars so that I can walk, speak and dance in freedom. Homeland is loving my own brown skin and waking up each morning to see another day despite so much … “

The second work sees Loots collaborate with the six Flatfoot dancers on a work that looks at Homeland from the pain of the global refugee crisis that sees millions of people forced to leave or evacuate their homes due to war and political, social or natural disasters. With 2014 UN figures siting that a new refugee or an internally-displaced person is created every five seconds somewhere on the planet, Loots and the dancers respond to false notion of belonging to a nation state and of feeling safe at ‘home’. With a deep resonance towards the pain of South Africa’s own xenophobia and continued racism, Loots’ Homeland begins to claims back the internal safety of a resistant (dancing!) self that seeks community in other ways; ways that talk back! Powerful and feisty work that, in Loots’s resolute dance making style,is sure to be controversial!

Loots has, once again, collaborated with Karen Logan for filmic images and installations which further layer her Homeland, and Wesley Maherry has designed the lighting for both works.

Flatfoot dancers for this season are Jabu Siphika, Zinhle Nzama, Kirsty Ndawo, Kim McCusker, Sifiso Khumalo, Tshediso Kabulu and Sanele Maphumulo.

Homeland runs from April 6 to 9 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre with performances at 19h30 and on April 10 at 15h00. Tickets R85 (R65 student, pensioner and group booking of more than 10 tickets) booked through Computicket.

The show on April 7 offers a rare treat for dance audiences when arts journalist, Adrienne Sichel (The Ar(t)chive, Wits School of Arts) hosts a special on-stage after performance discussion with both choreographers and members of the dance company.