Dance Umbrella 2018: Calling back the past

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04.03.2006 FNB Dance Umbrella. Program 9. Johannesburg University Arts Centre. ‘ Men-Jaro’ by Vincent Sekwati Koko Mantsoe. Photograph : John Hogg.
04.03.2006 FNB Dance Umbrella. Program 9. Johannesburg University Arts Centre.
‘ Men-Jaro’ by Vincent Sekwati Koko Mantsoe.
Photograph : John Hogg.

Happy Birthday and Happy Valentine’s Day Dance Umbrella!

On Valentine’s Day in 1989 – during the height of the cultural boycott – the Dance Umbrella festival came into being.

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What began as an idea of two respected arts journalists, Adrienne Sichel and Marilyn Jenkins – who felt that there was a need for a platform for contemporary dance in the country – was carefully put into motion by the respected businessman Philip Stein of Vita Promotions and resulted in a week-long festival in which 16 local choreographers participated. Since then Dance Umbrella has been presenting exceptional and groundbreaking contemporary dance to Johannesburg dance audiences.

Now, in celebration of its 30th anniversary, Dance Umbrella 2018 – 30 Years On will be presenting new contemporary works at various Johannesburg theatres: Wits Theatre Complex, the Dance Factory in Newtown, the UJ Arts Centre, the Joburg Fringe Theatre and the Hillbrow Theatre from March 6 -18, 2018.

Opening the 2018 festival on March 6 and 7, at the UJ Centre for the Arts are two works by two notable Dance Umbrella alumni – Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe with his re-worked Gula Matari, which premiered at the Dance Umbrella in 1992, and Gregory Vuyani Maqoma with Mayhem.

Musa Hlatshwayo - DODA.
Musa Hlatshwayo – DODA.

Both Mantsoe and Maqoma trained at Moving into Dance Mophatong. After presenting his first piece Gula at Dance Umbrella in 1992, Mantsoe went on to become an internationally renowned teacher, dancer and choreographer; likewise Maqoma, who premiered his first work at Dance Umbrella in 1994, also went on to enjoy an international career, creating works in the USA, UK, Europe, Africa and Eastern Europe. Maqoma has, to date, premiered most of his new works at Dance Umbrella before going on to present internationally.

Both artists used the Dance Umbrella festival as a ‘space to play’ … creating works that they then tested on the platform.

Stepping further back into Dance Umbrella’s past, some of the commissioned choreographers for this 30th anniversary edition who were part of the inaugural season of the festival include:

Steven Cohen - Chandeliers.
Steven Cohen – Chandeliers.

Robyn Orlin and Gerard Bester, who premiered works at Dance Umbrella’s first season, went on to work together in 1998, the 10th anniversary of Dance Umbrella, with Orlin creating daddy, i’ve seen this piece six times before and i still don’t know why they’re hurting each other. ‘Daddy’ subsequently toured internationally for 10 years and won Orlin various awards, including an Olivier in London in 2003. Orlin went on to enjoy an illustrious international career and Bester currently runs the Hillbrow Theatre Project.

Bester, in collaboration with Alan Parker, who presented his first work at Dance Umbrella 10 years ago, presents a new work Sometimes I have to Lean In…on March 8 and 9 at 19:00 at the Wits Amphitheatre.

Orlin will present her internationally celebrated work and so you see… our honourable blue sky and ever-enduring sun… can only be consumed slice by slice, which features the beautifully fearless Albert Ibokwe Khoza with Thabo Pule, on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 13 and 14 at 18:00 at the Dance Factory. It is produced by City Theatre and Dance Groups, Festival Montpelier Danse 2016; Festival d’Automne a Paris; Kinneksbond; Centre Culturel Mamer, Luxembourg Centre Dramatique National de Haute-Normandie and la Ferme du Buisson, scene Nationale de Marne.

Dance Umbrella 2012. Prog_02. The Market Theatre. 17 February 2012. 'Exit/Exist' concept and choreography by Gregory Maqoma and Vuyani Dance Theatre. Music performed by Complete - Bubele Mgele, Linda thobela,Happy Motha and Bonginkosi Zulu withguitarist Giuliano Modarelli. Photograph: John Hogg/Dance Umbrella. Photograph by John Hogg.
Dance Umbrella 2012.
Prog_02.
The Market Theatre.
17 February 2012.
‘Exit/Exist’ concept and choreography by Gregory Maqoma and Vuyani Dance Theatre.
Music performed by Complete – Bubele Mgele, Linda thobela,Happy Motha and Bonginkosi Zulu withguitarist Giuliano Modarelli.
Photograph: John Hogg/Dance Umbrella.
Photograph by John Hogg.

Another notable choreographer at the inaugural season, Magogo Sylvia Glasser, founder of Moving into Dance Mophatong, MIDM, now celebrating its Ruby (40th) anniversary, has enjoyed an almost symbiotic relationship with Dance Umbrella with many of its dancers and choreographers using the festival as a launch pad to project their dance careers.

Moving into Dance Mophatong starts its anniversary year with a new work Embracing Gravity, which includes Glasser’s Stone Cast Ritual, and a new work from David Gouldie, who will work with the company and students. It will be presented at the Wits Theatre on March 15 and 16 at 19:30.

Other Dance Umbrella alumni who are also commissioned choreographers include:

the always contentious Steven Cohen, who Dance Umbrella audiences first encountered 20 years ago with his work Chandelier. Cohen, who collaborated with dancer/choreographer the late Elu, took contemporary dance to another level. Most of their work, which was extremely successful internationally, always premiered at the Dance Umbrella. Cohen is now resident in France. For the 30th anniversary he brings a new work (which premiered last year at the Montpellier Danse Festival in France), put your heart under your feet…and walk… to the Wits Theatre on Thursday March 8 and Friday March 9 at 21:00. It is presented in partnership with the French Institut South Africa; Montpellier Danse 2017; Fumain TROP and French Institut Novelle-Aquitaine.

> another notable alumna Jayesperi Moopen, founder and artistic director of the Tribhangi Dance Theatre, first showed a work at the festival in 1994. Moopen has created a new work called Elements which will be presented at the Wits Theatre on March 13 and 14 at 20:30. Two totally diverse companies, the Cape Town-based Cape Dance Company and Tribhangi Dance Theatre explore and celebrate the joy of discovery.

> also from 1994 is PJ Sabbagha who has been creating work at Dance Umbrella ever since, and has, over the years developed a style that is recognised internationally. For the 2018 season he premieres a new work called Noah at the Dance Factory on Friday March 16 and Saturday March 17 at 18:00. Noah is a return to and final part of Sabbagha’s “Noah’s” trilogy which started in 1998 with Noah’s Phobia followed by Noah’s Drowning. The final part of the trilogy brings into focus the ever-present realities of environmental degradation and the immediate environment we occupy presently.

> Sello Pesa started showing new work at the Dance Umbrella in 1995; he is another Dance Umbrella alumnus who has also gone on to enjoy an international career. Now, in 2018 brings a work that premiered at the inaugural Centre for a Less Good Idea Season 1 called Bag Beatings. This will be presented at the Wits Downstairs Theatre on March 15 and 16 at 21:00.

> and Musa Hlatshwayo, a Durban-based artist, first presented a work at Dance Umbrella in 1996. His 2018 work is DODA, in which he explores black male identity and issues around modern day and traditional masculinity. It is part of the Double Bill to be presented at the Dance Factory on Saturday March 10 at 18:00 and on Sunday 11 March at 14:30.

Other highlights at Dance Umbrella 2018 are a series of Master Classes, presented by Vincent Mantsoe and Gregory Maqoma on March 7; Gerard Bester and Alan Parker on March 10; Fana Tshabalala on March 11; Louise Coetzer on March 12 and Musa Hlatshwayo on March 12 and the popular Face to Face conversations, facilitated in partnership with Drama for Life, which will take place with the same artists after the classes. The Master Classes are free and to register to attend please call Lethabo at 076 162 3999.

Dance Umbrella 2018 will also feature works from up and coming choreographer while the New Dance Programme will feature works from students and young artists.

Dance Umbrella 2018 is funded by the National Lotteries Commission. Other partners include Creative Feel Magazine; National Arts Council; the French Institut South Africa; Goethe-Institut Johannesburg; Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia; Splitbeam; Drama for Life and Business and Arts South Africa.

Tickets range from R50.00 to R150.00 – book at www.webtickets.co.za

An Early Bird Special is available from January 15 – February 15: tickets booked in this period get a 40% discount – call the hotline – 076 162 3999 or 011 673 0035 to take advantage of this special.

Block bookings of 10 or more offer a 30% discount and school block bookings of 10 or more will get 50% discount. For block booking discounts and programme updates, please call the hotline – 076 162 3999 or 011 673 0035 or e-mail info@danceforum.co.za

For the Dance Umbrella 2018 programme, updates on the Master Classes and Face to Face interviews please visit www.danceforumsouthafrica.co.za

Follow Dance Umbrella on Twitter: @danceumbrellaSA / Facebook: Dance Umbrella Festival Johannesburg / Instagram: Dance_Umbrella_SA and please use #danceumbrella2018 and #30thanniversary.

Media: for interviews, images and accreditation please contact Di Sparks, Behind the Scenes Communications, 011 640 1500 / 073 208 8483 / disparks@artslink.co.za

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