DU 2015

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Dance Forum


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Dance Umbrella 2015

Dance Umbrella 2015 was the 27th edition of the festival that offers a free platform for new contemporary choreography and dance from both local and international artists.
Dance Umbrella 2015 opened on Thursday, February 26 and ran until March 15, 2015.

In the 17 day long celebration of contemporary dance, 16 commissioned works were presented, plus a new platform Street Beat where 12 youth groups were invited to present Hip Hop, Pantsula and street dance work. There was also a special weekend programme of student and young choreographers work. Two installation programmes were presented at the Museum of African Design (MOAD) in Maboneng and one in the Newtown Precinct.

The 2015 Dance Umbrella festival opened at the Dance Factory with the premiere of a work created by the Germany-based Argentinian choreographer, Constanza Macras called On Fire. The work was created through a series of residencies held in both Germany and South Africa in 2014 and the cast included South African and international dancers. On Fire looked at post-colonial post-Apartheid power struggles.

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The second programme, presented at GoetheonMain on February 28 and March 1, was What the Hell Happened to this Place?? by Thabiso Pule. This work,funded by Goethe Institut Johannesburg, looked at how the environment has been the victim of distruction on all levels.

Also presented in the opening weekend, was the premiere of Jay Pather’s site specific piece rite, in the MOAD at the Maboneng Precinct on February 28 and March 1 at 19:00. Playing to capacity houses rite was a re-imagining of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) with a focus on classical and contemporary African dance, images, ritual and video.
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On Sunday, March 1 the first edition of Street Beat featured Hip Hop, Pantsula and Street Dance. Facilitated by Matthews Manamela 12 groups from Gauteng were selected through an
audition and workshop process. Street Beat was very well attended and good feedback was received. There was great interest from the media for this programme.
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The first week of Dance Umbrella 2015 opened on March 3 and 4 with a Double Bill programme:
Fight, flight, feathers, f***ers, a collaboration between British-born choreographer Rachel Erdos and Moving into Dance company member Sunnyboy Motau, explored the politics and physicality of masculinity. The second work on the programme was by Cape Town based Figure of Eight Dance Company (FO8). The Architecture of Tears choreographed by Ananda Fuchs was a beautifully performed work that reflected on attraction beyond gender and social correctness.

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Cape Town-based choreographer Themba Mbuli presented Ashed with the UnMute Dance Company. The work looked at South Africa as a nation and the evolution that it has gone through politically, socially and economically. This work had disabled dancers in the cast.

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Mamela Nyamza premiered Wena Mamela in the Dance Factory on March 5 and 6 at 19:00. Wena Mamela was created through a series of residencies held in Senegal, Germany and South Africa. Funded by the Institut Francais (France), Steptext and Africtions (Germany) and commissioned by Dance Umbrella, Wena Mamela was an eccentric solo that reflected on her personal history as a black South African woman and dance artist.
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On Seeing Red by Gavin Krastin was a performance art work that looked at the global climate and highlighted how power has rapidly developed wars, corrupt governments bio-medical disasters and general chaos internationally. It was presented at the Barney Simon Theatre on March 5 and 6.
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The weekend of March 7 and 8 at the Wits Theatre featured young choreographers and student chorographers in two programmes.

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The Young Choreographers platform showed outcomes from the Dance XChange programme funded by Rand Merchant Bank and the National Arts Council respectively. The Student programme included students from Tshwane University and Oakfields College.

Portrait of Myself as my Father by New York-based Zimbabwean choreographer Nora Chipaumire and performed by Tumbuka Dance Company from Harare, was an interesting interrogation of the “Zimbabwean self” through dance, movement and space focusing on the masculine presence.
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The second week of Dance Umbrella 2015 opened with a double bill programme at the John Kani Theatre on March 10 and 11. 5 Hats by Thoko Sidiya was inspired by the different roles and responsibility expected from women in their daily lives. Kitty Phetla from Joburg Ballet created The After Effect a work that looked inside one’s thoughts and self confidence, tapping into our imperfect souls.
DU 2015 Report 13Simunye: we are one choreographed by Sello Pesa was presented at the Newtown Precinct on March 12 and 13 at 18:30. This work examined the “Rainbow Nation” and what it means to be a South African and who is actually a South African.
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Chthonia by Tossie van Tonder aka Nobonke was presented in the John Kani Theatre on March 12 and 13 at 20:00. This work reflected on her 32 years as a choreographer as well as expressing the power of the ageing female dancer.
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Fremde Tänze by Nelisiwe Xaba was a work created in residency in Germany at the Julius-Hans-Spiegel-Zentrum in Freiburg. Presented at the Dance Factory on March 13 and 14 at 20:15 this work was an investigation of the German and West-European Modern Dance and its exoticisms. This was also supported by the Goethe Institut Johannesburg
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Ngizwise by Sonia Radebe and Canadian choreographer Jennifer Dallas was performed by Moving into Dance Mophatong at the John Kani Theatre on March 14 and 15. This was a thought-provoking dance work that reflected on intimate stories of South Africa under Apartheid woven from the voices of the “born free generation”.
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The final programme was Negotiating Spaces which took place at the MOAD in the Maboneng Precinct on Sunday, March 15 from 19:00. Seven choreographers were selected to create works not longer than 15 minutes in various spaces within the MOAD. People could walk from the one to the other and it proved popular and interesting. The choreographers selected included Thapelo Kotlolo, Leigh Nudelman, Kieron Gina, Yolandi Olckers, Thuso Lobeko, Kristin Wilson and Rob Mills and Chuma Sopotlela. It was presented in collaboration with Sibikwa Art Centre.

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Also included in Dance Umbrella 2015 was the following:
· A series of Master Classes took place at the Hillbrow Theatre and the Dance Space. The teacher was Alfred Hinkel from the Garage Dance Theatre in Okiep, Northern Cape. His focus was dance for the advanced performer. He also included one workshop for beginners.
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A three-day Dance Writers Workshop was facilitated by Mary Corrigall and held at the Dance Space on February 13, 14. 20 21 and March 2. The workshop
was funded by the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg. The reviews and interviews written by the participants were featured in various newspapers such as the Sunday Independent and The Star and online. The writers included Same Mdluli, Layla Leiman and Stefanie Jansen. Below is the report


  • Face to Face discussions, hosted by Nondumiso Msimanga, Mary Corrigall and Adrienne Sichel took place after selected performances. The focus here was to give the audiences a clearer idea of what the choreographers were doing with their work. People interviewed included Themba Mbuli, Tossie van Tonder and Nelisiwe Xaba
  • Excavating the Personal: Choreographing the Archive: a discussion facilitated by The Ar(t)chive, at Wits School of Arts that focused on how dance creates their own archive

Press clips collected for Dance Umbrella 2015 are valued at over R7 million.

Dance Umbrella 2015 featured 17 programmes with a total of 45 works.

The festival was fairly well attended. There was a focus of attracting young scholars, students and dance trainees, who were offered special discount prices.
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  • Production costs: The main funding was received from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. Other funding received was from the Goethe Institut, French Institut, National Arts Council and Rand Merchant Bank. Other funders were mainly related to the works presented.
  • Marketing: We produced a festival brochure, which was distributed to theatres, the media, dance studios, foreign embassies/ consulates, shopping centres and dance interest mailing lists. We did extensive internet advertising and bulk e-mails to our mailing list and schools

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  • Publicity: There was a huge interest and support from both print media and television. Several interviews and articles about Dance Umbrella and/or selected choreographers as seen in the press cuttings and publicity report-back. The festival was featured in Classic Feel magazine as well as listed in various national magazines in their events columns. Radio and television coverage was also extensive.
  • Face to Face conversations hosted by Mary Corrigall, Nondumiso Msimanga and Adrienne Sichel. Selected choreographers were interviewed after their performances to audience who was interested in getting more info re the work. This included Themba Mbuli, Gavin Krastin, Tossie van Tonder and Nelisiwe Xaba

All photographs by John Hogg

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