Limbs come to life

2012-06-30 14:41

The National Arts Festival will host a slew of dance performances. Percy Mabandu looks at four must-see shows.

Dance as an art form manages to extend the meaning of the human body beyond functional movements.

It gives physical gestures texture, and the corporeal body is aesthetically transformed to become more than the vessel we inhabit through life.

This year’s National Arts Festival showcases dance in all its diverse glory – dance as activism, dance as an exploration of identity and dance as a celebration of form.

Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year for dance Bailey Snyman will mark his reign with a production titled Moffie, an Afrikaans slur for a homosexual.

The piece is an adaptation of a novel by André Carl van der Merwe.

He says the book was a result of his need to make sense of the madness around him while he was doing his compulsory military service during apartheid.

It looks at the atrocities that took place in ward 22, where gays in the defence force of the time were abused and tortured. This emotionally charged material is choreographed by Snyman.

He gives his particular poetic, challenging and visually provocative style to it.

Also lending credibility to the festival line-up is Mayhem, a production by the Vuyani Dance Theatre, which Joburg audiences may remember from the captivating performances they witnessed last month.

Choreographed by acclaimed dancers Gregory Maqoma and Luyanda Sidiya, it is a cross-pollination of diverse elements extracted from a pool of contemporary African styles and fused into dialogue.

It forms part of the Fringe programme and will also serve to highlight some of the generally unknown talent from the Vuyani Dance Theatre’s development programme.

Another production to watch out for is Pudique Acide / Extasis, a re-staging of the first two joint productions by choreographers Mathilde Monnier from New York and Frenchman Jean-François Duroure.

The show was devised for this year’s Montpellier Dance Festival in France.

The duo was driven by a yearning to reclaim and convey the essence of the creations with new commitment to youthful energy and raw existence. They’ve enlisted Sonia Darbois and Jonathan Pranlas as two young dancers to do what they did in 1984.

Pudique Acide / Extasis forms part of the France-South Africa Season, 2012 to 2013.

In another highlight of the festival, acclaimed South African choreographer and performer Athena Mazarakis and Hansel Nezza, the artistic director of Marabula Barcelona-Berlin, have come together to explore the effects of fear in human interaction and

Titled Inter.

Fear, the dance piece uses physicality with clever stage designs and imaginative digital art to explore the constant and menacing presence of fear in our lives.

There’s also a distinct theme of how fear mediates and interferes with our lived experience.

The material for the work was sourced and researched across three cities – Barcelona, Berlin and Joburg – with a reputation and history of violence and crime – two common progenitors of fear.

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