Women choreographers train youth to lift SA dance

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Women choreographers are shaping the future of dance in South Africa, by collaborating and training the youth.

SPINDIZZY: ‘Ruby Suite’ is one piece in a double bill presented by the NSA in collaboration with Moving into Dance Mophatong and the JYB as part of their annual production, Dance Spectrum, in The Mandela at Joburg Theatre 10-13 May. Pic: Carl Ballot.
SPINDIZZY: ‘Ruby Suite’ is one piece in a double bill presented by the NSA in collaboration with Moving into Dance Mophatong and the JYB as part of their annual production, Dance Spectrum, in The Mandela at Joburg Theatre 10-13 May. Pic: Carl Ballot.

This week the National School of the Arts (NSA) stages its annual flagship production, Dance Spectrum, at the Joburg Theatre.

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The production features choreography by some of South Africa’s best ex-soloist and principal dancers. They include Haydee Baker, Laura Cameron, Alexandra le Maitre, Mary-Ann Mottram, Gillian Bonegio, Jayd Swart and Jayesperi Moopen.

Baker, NSA’s Head of Dance, and the artistic director of Dance Spectrum said it’s important to share the dance knowledge gained throughout their careers to nurture the artists of tomorrow.

“I would love for the learners to experience the joys of performing that I have been privileged to be a part of. The dance industry, particularly in South Africa, is quite insular. But we are starting to see a shift within the workshop/masterclass environment where teachers and dancers are sharing their expertise with others,” she added.

An eclectic DANCE SPECTRUM from the National School of the Arts.
An eclectic DANCE SPECTRUM from the National School of the Arts.

The learners perform two pieces, Clara’s Journey and the Ruby Suite. The show opens with Clara’s Journey, an adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Act 2. It is followed by an exciting restaging of Johannesburg Youth Ballet’s Ruby Suite, in collaboration with the NSA and Moving into Dance Mophatong (MIDM).

The double bill features an eclectic fusion of choreographic influences including pantsula, hip-hop, neo-classical ballet, contemporary, flamenco, and Chinese and Indian dance.

“The learners have been exposed to different cultures and dance styles. They have also worked with choreographers from all walks of life and I think they have been challenged artistically and socially.

“Dance prepares one for life. Dancers learn to take criticism with humility, perform with passion, to never give up easily, to work as a team, and to always keep striving for excellence – these traits always stand a dancer in good stead, no matter where life takes them,” said Baker.

Alexandra le Maitre, the choreographer of the flamenco section of the Ruby Suite, describes the style as a living art form which is constantly evolving. “Flamenco is always open for personal interpretation. The complexities of each rhythm mirror the highs and lows in life’s journey.

“As a former member of the Johannesburg Youth Ballet and past pupil of NSA, I know first-hand the value of each institution. They both play an important role in developing a versatile, rounded dancer. Dance teaches so many things, especially to look beyond the self, and self-interest, and to work towards a collective goal.”

She says women choreographers are an inspiration to girls. “They bring a different life experience and perspective to their choreographies and deal with issues that don’t affect men in the way they affect women.”

Dance Spectrum runs on The Mandela stage at the Joburg Theatre from 10-13 May. The tickets are affordably priced at R100, and special block bookings are available at R80 per ticket. https://www.webtickets.co.za/events/theatre/dance-spectrum-2018/1468865508

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