Earth Lines

Flatfoot_pic23 - 27 March 2011
Contemporary Dance

 Fresh from a triumphant opening of the recent prestigious 2011 Johannesburg based Dance Umbrella, Flatfoot Dance Company returns home to showcase two of their seminal dance theatre works to a home audience. Having spent the last year travelling nationally and international (including trips to Cameroon and Holland), Flatfoot are delighted to be back in Durban to once again offer their award winning brand of African contemporary dance theatre.

“Earth Lines” is a season of the two full-length dance works that Flafoot showcased at this year’s Dance Umbrella. Both works constitute two of the seminal dance theatre works in the company’s repertoire; works that have received standing ovations from both national and international audiences. Flatfoot is delighted to stage these works again for Durban audiences as both of the dance works on offer are deeply embedded in the emotional and geographical fabric of KwaZulu-Natal.

Sifiso E. Kweyama’s work “circle” was first created at the beginning of 2010 and is a haunting ritual dance theatre work that is also a slightly autobiographical look at Kweyama’s own rural KZN roots. This work began as an exploration of traditional values around Zulu story-telling and its place in both ancient and contemporary African society. Kweyama became fascinated with the ideas around how we talk to each other and how, often in contemporary times, we do not listen. In this work he travels back to the spacial ideas of traditional times when we would all sit around a fire in a circle, face each other and talk and, most importantly, listen.  It involved each of the dancers using this platform to also negotiate their ‘stories’ and so the work has a very private and intimate sensibility. It is a combination of heart-stopping African contemporary dance technique, in a style that has made Kweyama a much sought after teacher and choreographer, with a tender social conscience that is deeply moving!

The second work on the “Earth Lines” programme is Loots’s own controversial and critically acclaimed dance theatre work “BLOODLINES”. First performed in 2009, it is a work that delves head-first and uncompromisingly into a political dreamscape that looks into questions of home, belonging and what it means to be a contemporary African. Images of bloodlines that encompass African refugees in South Africa, itinerant African people searching for a home, Xenophobia, and Loots’s own ironic look at whiteness and her own Afrikaner roots, is presented in a dance work that offers very little  narrative but rather the dreams and nightmares of the present.

Collaborating, in “BLOODLINES”, with long time friend and internationally acclaimed spoken word poet ewok (Iain Robinson), Loots has found a way to thread the spoken work and ewok’s own inimitable performance style into a dance theatre work that begins to redefine a genre. Also collaborating once again with Loots, has been Durban filmmaker Karen Logan whose poetic images further layer this dance theatre vision.

As Loots has said, “I make theatre and dance that brings the people I work with along with me, be this the dancers who actively are part of the creative process, or the poet or the filmmaker. In a strange way we have all been feeling quite profoundly about these kinds of bloodlines that make us African – we might not all agree but we have raised the often heated discussions; and this is what art should do after all?”

The link between the two dance works is that both of them navigate, though stylistically very differently, ways in which contemporary dance take on the theatrical form of story-telling. “circle” is a technically superb work that allows the dance idiom to re- define contemporary African story-telling. As the title dictates, the work focuses on what happens when we all sit together, in a circle, and speak our hearts. “BLOODLINES” is less narrative and more about the small – and sometimes very big - moments of our collective history that all come together, through film, spoken-word, dance, to negotiate memory, blood and legacy. The work directly came out of the xenophobia attacks of 2008 and circles this by looking at where all of this began; back into a far distant history of vaguely remembered South African bloodlines.

This is a rare opportunity to catch Flatfoot on Durban’s home ground before they head off again. Booking opens at COMPUTICKET on the 10 March – don’t miss this!