Dance drama in honour of Indians’ arrival in South Africa

2010-08-03 00:00

THE lush dance drama Sunghursh has been created to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians­ and their contribution to the struggle for liberation in South Africa.

Choreographers Varsha Sharma and Vusi Makanya use classical and contemporary Indian dance, as well as Zulu and contemporary dance, to tell the story scripted by Rakesh Maharaj­ and directed by Smeetha Maharaj.

Sunghursh kicks off with three children­ and their grandparents (played by Dhaveshan Govender and Shika Budhoo) walking onto the stage. The older generation is exasperated that all the children want to do is watch TV, play video games and use their cellphones.

Determined to show the importance of their history, the pair set about telling their grandchildren (Khinali Bagwandeen, Meerachal Rambhir and Pratish Deonarian) how Indians came to be in South Africa and their contribution to the country’s history­.

Starting off in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu during the 1860s, Sunghursh follows the arrival of the first indentured labourers to Natal on the SS Truro and SS Belvedere and their subsequent shattered dreams, hardships and ultimate success.

It also includes segments on Gandhi­ and his passive resistance movement in South Africa; the effect of the Group Areas Act in 1950; the launch of the ANC’s armed struggle in 1961; the revival of the Natal Indian Congress in the seventies; the formation of a Tri-Cameral parliament in 1984; the country’s first democratic elections in 1994 and the current spirit of reconstruction and development in South Africa.

The clever set design uses a number of different performance levels­, which helps bring to life fields of sugar cane, homes and shops, while the dancers add a kaleidoscope of colour to the Opera stage.

I defy anyone to walk away from this production without a smile on their face, especially after the World Cup-inspired finale.

• Sunghursh, presented by the Nateshwar Dance Company, in association with The Playhouse Company, can be seen in the Opera Theatre until Sunday. Schools performances are at 11 am (tickets R40), evening performances are at 8 pm and matinées are at 3 pm. Tickets are R80 to R100 (R120 at the door) from Computicket or the Playhouse box office at 031 369 9540 (office hours).

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