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Monday, May 3, 2021


The inaugural Artfluence Human Rights Festival presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal will showcase and highlight the extraordinary work of human rights defenders in South Africa and on the continent - past and present - and the role of the arts and artists in promoting human rights today.

Supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands, the inaugural festival will run for four days from May 5 to 8, 2021.

In celebrating the theme of the festival, Voices of Hope, Courage & Resilience, the Thursday night May 6 at 19h00, turns to spotlight three incredible dance makers who are also human rights activists in the sphere of inclusive disability dance practice.

The current Human Rights paradigm of understanding disability requires nation-states to not only provide disability-related services but also to adopt measures to change attitudes and behaviours that stigmatise persons with disabilities, eliminating the physical and social barriers that inhibit persons with disabilities from participating fully in society. In this inaugural Artfluence Human Rights Festival, the May 6 dance platform seeks to engage the confluence of disability, dance and the discussion around Human Rights.

Curated by the CCA’s JOMBA! Artistic Director, Lliane Loots, this platform will highlight three significant local and international dance makers who are working in a professional contemporary dance environment to mainstream the arguably decentred dancer and choreographer living and working with disability, and who are also – in their creative and visionary dance making - adopting measures to change attitudes and behaviours that marginalise persons with disabilities within the arts.

Choreographers featured are South Africa’s Nadine McKenzie from Unmute Dance Company in Cape Town, Ondiege Matthew from Dance Into Space working in Nairobi, Kenya and Adriaan Luteijn from Introdans based in Arnhem in The Netherlands. These three dance makers exemplify – through a long history of dance making - the theme of this year’s Artfluence Human Rights Festival Voices of Hope, Courage & Resilience in how their integrated dance practices celebrate - and often provoke - dignity and respect for all people equally.

A dance work by each of these choreographers is screened, and a robust discussion panel lead by Loots will follow. Dance works screening are Access Denied with concept and direction by Nadine Mckenzie and filmed by Themba Mbuli, Agwata choreographed by Ondiege Matthew, and Adriaan Luteijn’s Circular. This is the first time these three ground-breaking new (short) works are screened in South Africa.

(Left: “Access Denied” - Nadine McKenzie)

Filmed by Themba Mbuli, Access Denied is a video presentation/film on three artists from Unmute Dance Theatre. The film is a documentation of the different challenges these artists face daily where issues of accessibility are concerned. The film stems from the many challenges we face as individuals in a society that overlooks persons with disabilities and their need to move around freely and at their independence without assistance from another. In a country such as South Africa that is in its 27th year of democracy, we are still faced with and denied the right to accessible buildings. Persons with hearing impairments are still faced with situations where people do not know how to communicate in sign language. Concept and direction of work: Nadine Mckenzie.

(Right: “Agwata” - Ondiege Matthew)

Recorded live on stage at Kenya National Theatre on December 10, 2020, in front of a select audience, Agwata has been awarded: Best Dance Theatre - Sanaa Theatre Awards 2020. Dancers include Pamela Jura, Nicholas Ouma, Novaline Akoth, Michael Oturi, Rodgers Maithya, Lorritte Aluoch, Kelvin Tesha, Kennedy Wafula, Joe Philips and Gaya Diana. Music by Samuel Nyawere, Willice Otieno and Richard Mwendwa. Lights design & control: Alacoque Ntome. Choreography and Artistic direction:  Ondiege Matthew. Persons with Disability suffer silently in 'a triple jeopardy' violence - gender violence, human rights violence, and discrimination/exclusion violence. The dependence – in Africa - on sorcery and black magic, brought about by beliefs and myths to try to cope with the occurrence of disability, is in itself a form of soft violence. Agwata (the calabash) ritualistically demonstrates this soft violence meted upon PWD by a society that is oblivious of its discriminating actions that are often promoted by cultural myths and misconceptions. Agwata proposes a demystification and dispelling of the myths surrounding disability (to spill the concoction in the calabash) in order to create an enabling environment where everyone has their rights respected and upheld.

(Left: “Circular” - Adriaan Luteijn)

Circular, which Adriaan Luteijn created in 2018, is an encounter between two Introdans dancers (Giuseppe Calabrese and Mathieu Di Scala) and Edwin van der Burg, a film-maker who is born with C.P. (cerebral palsy) and now spends large parts of the day in a wheelchair. Standing, walking, every simple movement costs him a lot of energy. “I have to concentrate on every movement, and that certainly applies to this choreography, too.” However, although Van der Burg walks with a swaying and rocking motion and his hands are bent inwards, Luteijn sees this not as a limitation but rather as a possibility: he takes this specific movement quality as the starting point for his choreography and has the two Introdans dancers respond to this. Dancers are Mathieu di Scala, Giuseppe Calabrese and Edwin van den Burg with music by Jaap van Keulen. Filmmaker Inge Theunissen completed, in collaboration with Adriaan Luteijn, the choreography with a pre- and sequel movie.


The inaugural Artfluence Human Rights Arts Festival focusing on arts, constitution, and democracy will be presented by the Centre for Creative Arts in partnership with the Embassy of the Netherlands. Voices of Hope, Courage and Resilience will be the theme for the inaugural festival. It will mark the 25th anniversary of the Centre for Creative Arts as a vibrantly creative enabler and advocate for social justice and democracy and the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the South African Constitution. The inaugural festival will run for four days, from May 5 to 8, 2021. The Freedom of Expression panel will be screening on Wednesday, May 5 at 17h00.

The festival is freely accessible and can be watched via and