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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

things left unsaid

(Jabu Siphika & Sifiso Khumalo)

In a remarkable feat of perseverance and beauty, Durban’s inimitable Flatfoot Dance Company celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2018 as one of South Africa leading contemporary dance companies. With an international touring reputation for excellence and a host of national awards under its belt, Flatfoot’s arrival at this momentous 15th mark is a testament to a dedicated team of dancers and administrators.

Founder and Artistic Director, Lliane Loots says; “it feels amazing to suddenly wake up and look at the calendar and see that we have been doing this for 15 years. It has been the best 15 years of my life where I have interacted with literally thousands of dancer in our community dance development programmes in KZN, and in which I have had the privilege of working with the professional dancers in the company who have journey alongside me to give Flatfoot the reputation that is has”.

Celebrating this significant moment, Flatfoot is offering Durban audiences a full-length season from March 21 to 25 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre) of new dance theatre work that is sure to solidify its longevity for another 15 years. With a reputation of edgy, controversial, beautiful and intelligent dance, Flatfoot has titled its 15th anniversary season things left unsaid. Diving heart-first into the zeitgeist of contemporary South African identity, this remarkable season offers two new dance works by Sifiso Khumalo and Lliane Loots. 

Khumalo has worked with Flatfoot for 12 of the 15 years of its existence and steps up, for its 15th anniversary season, to take on a magnificent choreographic role in his work Ndlelanhle (meaning ‘go well on your journey’). Over the past six years Khumalo’s reputation as an innovative choreographer has been growing with him recently having been awarded a prestigious ‘JOMBA! On the Edge’ choreographic grant for 2017. His insightful and heartfelt attention to traditional Zulu cultural identity and how contemporary modern life has shifted how we think about ourselves, is once again given air in this new work of his.

Talking about the impulse for creating Ndlelanhle, Khumalo says; “growing up in Zulu culture when you leave home for a certain journey the elders would give you a special prayer or blessing. I worry that these small things have been forgotten. These words and blessing matter so much; they are a reminder that we, as black urban Zulu men and women, still have ancestors guiding us. In Ndlelanhle I wanted to go back to these small blessings spoken to us as young adults leaving home and to look at how these words might affect who we become”.

Khumalo’s Ndlelanhle also launches the professional career of Flatfoot’s newest crop of male dancers. Siseko Duba, Ndumiso Dube, Qhawe Ndimande, Sbonga Ndlovu and Mthoko Mkhwanazi have all completed a five-year professional development training programme run by Flatfoot (and funded by the National Arts Council of South Africa) and step onto the stage with grace, skill and dedication that will simply take your breath away. Flatfoot Dance Company felt that this 15th anniversary was indeed the right moment to reveal and celebrate the incredible journey of these Newlands and KwaMashu based dancers.

The second half of the evening presents Lliane Loots’s newest offering things left unsaid and is part of her on-going artistic dance journey into seeking truth and honesty in her dance making. In a collaborative process, Loots has worked with Jabu Siphika, Zinhle Nzama, Sifiso Khumalo and the five new dancers to painfully interrogate the ‘things we leave unsaid’ – be these words and feelings of love or moments of social injustice and terror. Loots’ reputation for politically edge work that wraps an iron fist in a velvet glove, is once again sedimented in this dance theatre work that will make you weep for the sheer delicate beauty of it, and then will have you spinning for what it reveals.

Loots says, “like many of my recent works, things left unsaid returns to what fascinates me right now and this is quite basically an earnest plea for intimacy in spite of the violence of our world. I journey with the dancers into some pretty horrifying personal and political territory and am reminded that we are all still standing – and still dancing. In the end this is a triumph of the heart; the bigness of the South African heart”.

Loots has worked alongside long time collaborators, Wesley Maherry (lighting), Karen Logan for video installations, and spoken word poet Iain ‘ewok’ Robinson who has added insightful text to things left unsaid.

Catch Flatfoot Dance Company’s 15th anniversary season things left unsaid at the Sneddon Theatre from March 21 to 25, 2018. Tickets R85 (R65 students, scholars, pensioners and block booking of 10 or more) available through Computicket.

Performances from March 21 to 24 at 19h30, on March 23 at 11h00 for schools with a final public performance on March 25 at 14h30.

Opening night (March 21 at 19h30: Heritage Day) is the special 15th anniversary celebration launch of things left unsaid and tickets will be sold for R100 as part of a fundraising drive for the company. The evening will include a glass of sparkling wine after the show.