(Zinhle Nzama on left, Kim Mccusker-Bartlett being lifted and in order front to back Tshediso Kabulu, Jabu Siphika & Sifiso Khumalo. Pic by Val Adamson)
Durban’s acclaimed contemporary dance company, FLATFOOT Dance Company, is one of four companies invited by the National Arts Council of South Africa to represent South Africa in Senegal at the prestigious Goree Island Diaspora Festival at the end of November.
FLATFOOT is one of two dance companies to get the invite and will be presenting a double bill (titled Southern Exposure) of choreographer (and artistic director) Lliane Loot’s recent dance works. Over 2016, Loots has presented two linked dance works that have dealt with hard-hitting themes around displacement, migrations and refugees. The first titled “HOMELAND (security)” was presented in April at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre and looks into issues of identity from the pain of the global refugee crisis that sees millions of people (mostly from developing contexts like Africa) forced to leave or evacuated their homes due to war, and political and social disasters.
In this highly praised work, Loots and the FLATFOOT 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’s HOMELAND (security) begins to claim back the internal safety of a resistant (dancing) self that seeks community.
The second work, “MIGRATIONS (at the feet of Kali)” sees FLATFOOT collaborate with spoken word poet Iain ewok Robinson and classical Indian Kathak dancer Manesh Maharaj. Bordering on performance installation, this dance theatre works is physical journey into the heart of colonial and post-colonial rememberings around the violent movements/migrations of people. Using personal memory as the starting point, this work interfaces with the confluence of colonial Indian and South African histories and sees the meeting of spoken word, African contemporary dance, classical Indian Kathak dance and video installations. This work premiered at the 2016 JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Festival in September this year.
Loots says; “Given that the 8th Edition of this Goree Island Diaspora Festival is themed “MEMORY AND RESILIENCE,’’ from the past to the present, how can we heal the divides in human society?”, FLATFOOT Dance Company’s dance work is perfectly situated to sit in the framework of the festival and add to the artistic debates around issues of memory, resilience, home and the myriad identities of South Africans (and Africans)”.
She adds, “We are thrilled to be going. Not only to share our work on our own continent but to take dance work that means something to us and to the lives of African bodies that must speak”.
Goree Island, like its twin Robben Island, is a site of memory and history for Senegal and was used as a slave outpost during the colonial era. The island has been turned into a museum and visitors can walk through slave holding cells and walk through the “door of no return” – the infamous door that saw slaves loaded onto ships bound for Europe. The festival brings together various African artists each year in a festival that allows for collective healing.
FLATFOOT dancer Sifiso Khumalo says; “this is a big one for us – not only to walk the history of Goree Island and our West African brothers and sisters but it is also a time to remember that our art is a weapon for remembering. I cannot wait to dance and speak the truth of our South African bodies in Senegal."
Loots adds: “We leave Durban on 24 November and while this is not a sports tour, we are looking at this as the “team South Africa” in a spirit of letting our cultural ambassadors feel as significant as our sporting ones?”
For more information visit http://flatfootdancecompany.webs.com/