BLUE

                                                        Dates:             4 – 6 December 2014

                                                        Venue:            Artscape Theatre, Cape Town, South Africa

 

                                                        BWW Reviews: BLUE is a Testament to Cape Dance Company's Artistry and Vision

                                                        By David Fick, Broadway World, 1 December 2014

 

Nobody does dance on local stages like the Cape Dance Company (CDC). Their 2013 season of CADENCE at the Artscape Theatre was the local dance highlight of the year and they top themselves in 2014's presentation of BLUE, a compilation of eight eclectic pieces from half a dozen choreographers. Working in their trademark neo-classical style, the CDC's latest production confirms everything its brand has come to represent: artistic vision, excellent technique, a commitment to growing and challenging its dancers, and outstanding production values. Reflecting on two decades of excellent work in the programme for the show, artistic director Debbie Turner quotes Paulo Coelho: 'Courage in the path is what makes the path manifest itself.' The path Turner has travelled with her brainchild of a permanent dance company structure has undoubtedly led the CDC to its current position as a world class South African ensemble. BLUE is a testament to everything for which the company stands.

 

Two pieces presented in last year's CADENCE return to the stage to open and close BLUE: "Scenes", choreographed by Bradley Shelver, and "Bolero", one of three ballets by Christopher L. Huggins in the programme. Both have shifted in the last year, with "Scenes" in particular leaving a greater impression. While both pieces remain technically strong, what emerges more clearly this time around is a masterful sense of character, narrative and relationship dynamics.

 

"Scenes" is a piece that juxtaposes the creative process with performance, with multiple frameworks through which both the dancers and audience observe Shelver's choreography. Elzanne Crause and James Bradley's 'Duet' in the third movement of "Scenes", to Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata", is spellbinding, a breathtaking centrepiece to the striking opening of BLUE. Crause is grace personified, fluid and commanding as she glides and slices through space, while Bradley perfectly balances litheness with strength. Theirs is a perfect partnership. "Scenes" opens with 'Trio', a powerful formalist sequence in which Bradley is joined by Nathan Bartman and Mthuthuzeli November, followed by 'Quintet +1', which features the ladies of the company. Louisa Talbot, a stalwart of the Cape Dance Company, delivers standout work in this sequence, better than ever in combining technique and personality. Talbot is also most delightful in "Bolero", which features the entire company in a more playful and sharply characterised reading of Huggins's passion-filled piece.

Set pieces like "Scenes" and "Bolero" are complemented by more intimate and introspective works, including "The State In-between", created by Mblulelo Ndabeni in collaboration with Simone Muller-Lotz, and Cara-May Marcus's "Obscure Sorrows". The former piece begins with Muller-Lotz performing solo in a clean spotlight, working beautifully with breath, movement and text to create a culturally specific persona that becomes a universal archetype, reflecting the anxious human tendency to second guess one's instincts. Ndabeni joins her for the central section of the piece, at once an elegant spirit of liberation and the source of a powerful personal connection. The conceptualisation and choreography of the piece works neatly with contrasts in style, tone, design and sound.

 

"Obscure Sorrows" takes its cue from John Koenig's "The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows" with Marcus exploring strategies of embodying internal psychological conflicts, communicating in particular the tension between holding on and letting go. It is a piece that feels like a seed for a major work, a sense augmented by Marcus's inspiration for the piece.

Another new work in the CDC's repertoire is "Fadeout.Five", commissioned by the company as a result of their Thundafund New Works Campaign. Choreographed by Belinda Nusser, with assistance from Nelson Rodriguez, the opening night cast this startlingly contemporary piece featured Nathan Bartman, Londiwe Khoza, Odwa Lindokuhle Makanda, Thamsaqa Njoko and Mthuthuzeli November. Like "The State In-between" and "Obscure Sorrows", the piece engages with text, this time foregrounding it within the score of the piece. Personal narrative collides with commanding performances in "Fadeout.Five" to create a remarkable piece of work.

 

As in CADENCE, one spot in BLUE is reserved to showcase the CDCII Repertory Ensemble, this time in a new piece created for them by Mthuthuzeli November. It is a challenging piece of work and the young dancers rise to the challenge. Their growth as dancers since last year's "Treasures of the Heart" is remarkable and speak to the character of CDC on the whole: when the company's director and permanent company members refuse to let in even a whisper of complacency, and challenge themselves to grow in their vision and performance, this is the kind of excellence that is inspired throughout the ranks of an organisation.

 

The final two pieces in BLUE are both works by Christopher L. Huggins. The first, "In the Mirror of Her Mind", is a phenomenal pas de quatre danced by Elzanne Crause, James Bradley, Mbulelo Ndabeni and Mthuthuzeli November. A meditation on identity, love and loss, "In the Mirror of Her Mind" is one of the most arresting pieces in the show. Exquisitely performed by all four dancers, the piece features standout individual and ensemble work, with Crause executing simply magnificent work as the woman at the heart of it all. The best of everything that CDC has to offer, "In the Mirror of Her Mind" offers a moment of compelling perfection in which every element of performance comes together.

"Blue", which gives the show its title, brings something quite rare to the table: an all-male work that throbs with testosterone and which also requires an incredible level of stamina and technical dexterity from its cast. The piece has a gentle and unassuming start, in which the dancers struggled somewhat to find a seamless sense of ensemble. But when they found it, and "Blue" found its stride, the piece was stratospheric. The sense of competition between the men onstage is tangible, as is the feeling of their camaraderie, and the piece ultimately becomes an expression of the totality of dance as an expressive medium.

While it is the dancers that bring the show to life, the high standard of the production values of BLUE undeniably augments their performances and the mood of the individual pieces. The costume design many of the pieces comes from Dicky Longhurst's stylistically adventurous mind's eye, while the designs for "Scenes" and "The State In-between" originate with Aviad Herman and Mbulelo Ndabeni respectively. The lighting is handled by Niall Griffin, shaping the vast stage with broad washes of colour and light to help showcase the ever shifting imagery that inhabits the space.

 

BLUE is the culmination of two decades of artistry and tenacity. The CDC has become a symbol of just how much can be achieved with the courage to work hard enough to realise a vision. Turner and her dancers, past and present, have been uncompromising in striving to do everything they have done - and to do it properly. They are an inspiration not only to the local dance scene, but also to any company within the performance arts sector that wants to dream big and transform those dreams into a reality.

 

                                                              BLUE

                                                              Dates:             4 – 6 December 2014

                                                              Venue:            Artscape Theatre, Cape Town, South Africa

 

                                                              Reaching for the Stars

                                                              By Deborah Hathaway, Bizcommunity, 1 December 2014

 

Audiences have come to expect only the best from the Cape Dance Company (CDC), the Tokai-based inspiration behind world-class performances in the neoclassical genre by dancers who can hold their own on international stages. They seldom disappoint and their 20th-anniversary season of Blue, now on at Artscape Theatre in Cape Town, is no exception.

 

The company's trajectory is determined by Artistic Director Debbie Turner - her vision, courage, passion and compassion continues to inspire generations, attracting dancers not only committed to excellence, but also to making their way on the global stage. Alice Godfrey is currently a member of NDT 2 in The Hague, while graduating student Mthuthuzeli November will further his training at the Central School of Ballet in London early in 2015, before taking up his one-year tuition scholarship at The Ailey School in New York City in September. Third-year student Londiwe Khoza joins him in London and theatre fans had the pleasure of seeing both of them deliver sterling performances in Blue and the Cape Academy of Performing Arts' BitterSweet Reloaded at the weekend. 

 

Turner's ability to expose her dancers to international choreographers, such as Christopher L Huggins and Bradley Shelver, local luminaries that include Belinda Nusser and Michelle Reid, in addition to performance opportunities and educational tours abroad translates into consecutive seasonal hits. What that also means, to a degree, is some element of financial security for CDC - both Nusser's Fadeout.Five and Huggins's Blue were made possible by crowdfunding campaigns.

The CDC season was also the platform for November's professional choreographic debut with his new work, Calligraphy, featuring the organisation's youth company, the CDC II Repertory Ensemble, while former CDC student Cara-May Marcus made hers with Obscure Sorrows, a reflection of her two-year contract with Spectrum Dance Theatre in Seattle. November's ambitious work for 20 dancers shows great potential for more of his creative output in the future. 

Blue and BitterSweet Reloaded, respectively, also provided a platform for South Africans forging successful careers in London - Mbulelo Ndabeni and Simone Muller-Lotz - to perform in The State In-Between as well as for students from the Gugulethu-based Zama Dance School to dance a piece by Leanne Voysey. 

The title piece, Blue, was powerfully performed by eight men: Bradley, Ndabeni, November and Thamsanqa Njoko as well as trainees Odwa Lindokuhle Makanda, Lwando Dutyulwa, Vuyo Mahashe and Devan Hendricks. The latter group has shown tremendous growth during the year and really delivered on tough choreography initially made by Huggins for Philadanco. Huggins's assistant, Levi Marsman, taught them the work with Huggins fine-tuning it later on.


James Bradley's pas de deux with Elzanne Crause during In the Mirror of Her Mind, the latest Huggins work to be added to the CDC repertoire, was especially breathtaking. Also featuring Ndabeni, November and Khoza, there is no doubt that this is going to be an audience favourite.

Fadeout.Five is well polished, with several performances completed this year already. Somehow Nathan Bartman managed to add even more nuances to his solo, incorporating gestures to elaborate on the voiceover about being caught in crossfire that I had not noticed previously.

The opening night of Blue was momentous on many levels, not the least of which was the opportunity for the mothers of November, Ndabeni and Njoko to watch their sons in the spotlight (and what brilliant lighting design there was by Niall Griffin for both shows)!

Shelver's opening Scenes and Huggins's closing Bolero proved the ideal works to showcase the level of technical excellence and stamina that CDC members are renowned for. 

Watching CAPA's BitterSweet Reloaded on the following night, codirected by Turner and Nathalie Vijver, it's clear to see that the groundwork is well laid for professional careers early on.


There were several highlights - Asisipho Malunga's captivating acting, Reid's humorous Sunday Sinners and Jilted, the partnering skills displayed by November in the Nutcracker pas de deux with Khoza, and James Bradley's Crystal Contour, to name a few. The cute factor was well catered for in Turner's casting for her piece, Mr Melody, and the Ode to Fosse, choreographed by Turner, Nigel Lucas and Marelize Theron.

To get the full picture, treat yourself to at least one of the shows.

                                                              CADENCE

 

                                                              Dates:             4 – 7 December 2013

                                                              Venue:            Artscape Theatre, Cape Town South Africa

 

                                                              By David Fick, Broadway World, 4 December 2013

 

The Cape Dance Company (CDC) has grown into one of South Africa's top contemporary dance companies. Working from a neo-classical foundation, the company has a reputation for presenting polished work of an excellent technical standard. Their 2013 presentation, CADENCE, lives up to that reputation, showcasing the talents of the CDC's core and second generation company members as well as those of their trainees and their brand new repertory ensemble. The six pieces in the show are a combination of original works, works new to the company and works from previous CDC outings that have been restaged, all of which push the dancers to extend themselves - to change and grow - and it is that openness to new challenges that causes the company to flourish in all its endeavours.

 

CADENCE opens with "KeepCover" a piece choreographed for the Cape Dance Company by Joshua Beamish. Adopting a vocabulary that is filled with isolations, asymmetrical rhythms and shifting planes and pathways, Beamish demands precise and articulate body work from the dancers, which they deliver. There is a huge sense of investment in the work by the company, but this is true of their approach to the entire evening's performance. Every piece is invested with unfailing integrity, but it is in this piece where their sense of ensemble is strongest.

 

Another key set piece for the company en masse is Bradley Shelver's "Scenes", which toys with the concept of meta-dance by exploring the creative impulse as it manifests itself in the dancers' bodies. This idea gains further resonance by allowing the dancers to witness one another dance, which in turn allows the audience not only to observe the dancers interrogating their creativity but also the way in which they interrogate each other's work. At the root of it all is a common theme to any self-referential work in any art form, a desire to explore the nature of our connections to one another as human beings, and the company members' committed performance challenges the audience to engage with this proposal deeply.

 

A spirited pas de deux from "The Nature of Being", created by David Krugel in 2011, opens the second half of CADENCE. Danced by Louisa Talbot and Grant van Ster, the piece is a stirring vignette danced with superb control by the well-matched pair. I have often seen Talbot perform on stage and she has always made a strong impact. In CADENCE, however, something has shifted and it is as if she has taken her dance to the next level. She is mesmerising throughout this show. Van Ster also catches the eye whenever he appears on stage, delivering choreography with remarkable strength and athleticism.

 

Christopher L. Huggins contributes a rousing "Bolero", choreographed to Maurice Ravel's iconic composition, to CADENCE. Sensual and passionate, the piece features fourteen members of the company, with each couple displaying some virtuoso partner work before the full ensemble comes together for a climactic finish. Although each pair of dancers has a standout moment in this piece, Londiwe Khoza, Lee Fennell, Alice Godfrey and James Bradley especially catch one's attention. Khoza contrasts her earlier, graceful performance from the first half with a playful persona, displaying a winning comic flair as she partners Fennell, who struts around on stage like a god, revelling in his height and perfect placement. Bradley and Godfrey are a brilliant pairing, she graceful and displaying a beautiful sense of line and he displaying a lithe potency that too often gets lost in many male South African dancers' pursuit of brute muscularity.

 

Godfrey displays the full range of her lyrical style in an earlier pas de deux with Shaun Oelf, "Love Always" which is choreographed by the artistic director of the Cape Dance Company, Debbie Turner, and which is the most traditionally classical piece in the programme. Oelf has delivered some memorable work under the Jazzart banner, notably in BIKO'S QUEST, and it is gratifying to see him graduate to work that demands greater discipline and emerge triumphant.

 

The newly formed CDCII Repertory Ensemble makes its debut in CADENCE, in "Treasures of the Heart". Choreographed by Michael Turner in 2008 and restaged by Turner and Bradley, along with Tracey Aaron, the piece is a challenging one for young dancers - as well it should be - and a handful of the members of this second company truly rise to the task, standing out head and shoulders above the rest. Generally speaking though, there are times when one could sense a lack of security in some of the young dancers' performances and moments when their unison lacks precision, although their knowledge of the choreography cannot be questioned. I am looking forward to seeing them blossom.

 

CADENCE offers Cape Town audiences an opportunity to see world class dance on a local stage, performed by local dancers. Over the past 18 years, the CDC has proved that they can be ranked alongside the best South African dance companies. In fact, it is their commitment to pushing the boundaries of their company members, to developing new talent and to not resting on their laurels that keeps them there. This season of CADENCE is a short one, with only six performances over a ten day period. It is the local dance highlight of the year, and should not be missed.

 

 

                                                       

                                                       BLUE

National Arts Festival 2015, Grahamstown

Dates:             2, 3, 4 and 6 July 2015

Venue:           Centenary Hall

 

                                                        CUE 50 Words

                                                        By Stuart Lewis, CUE, 5 July 2015

 

High energy, modern and creative dance.  Enjoyable if you like action dance.  Not always easy to understand the story, but the movements are captivating.  I enjoyed most the pensive pas de deux.  A highlight of the show was all male finale, Blue.  Definitely worth it.

 

 

                                                       

                                                        BLUE

 National Arts Festival 2015, Grahamstown

 Dates:             2, 3, 4 and 6 July 2015

 Venue:            Centenary Hall

 

                                                        All Male Ballet Word-Class Feast of Strength and Glory

                                                        By Ann Knight, Herald, 7 July 2015

 

Debbie Turner has done it once again by presenting a world-class production of talented dancers and choreographers with Blue featuring four ballets and the work of three choreographers.

 

Turner is a stickler for technique and good choreographers and this shows in all her work.  And this year the men in her company are all amazing.

 

The most outstanding of these are Mthuthuzeli November and Londiwe Khoza.

 

Their interplay and physical presence on stage is electrifying and their acting outstanding.

 

Scenes was premiered by Svenska Ballet, Gothenburg Sweden in 2009 with choreography and lighting by Bradley Shelver.  The music is fast with a whirl of movement and flashes of red skirts under black.  The dance gradually slows down to the Moonlight Sonata and a beautiful duet by November and Khoza.

 

Contemporary dance has changed over the years.  Lifting, swirling and interplay are the order of the day.  The lifts are quite extraordinary and the usual jump and up are replaced with chair lifts, rolls and flying leaps.

 

Blue is choreographed by Christopher L Huggins.  This is an all-male ballet which emphasises the strength and sharp technique of these dancers.

 

When they first came here 20 years ago, the oldest dancer was 14 and there were only girls.  Now she has a fully-fledged, totally professional company who can hold their heads up anywhere in the world.

 

 

                                                       

                                                       SACRED SPACES

Artscape Theatre 2016

Dates:            till Dec 10, 2016

 

                                                        Review in WHATSONINCAPETOWN

                                                        By Shirley-Anne Bezuidenhout,  5 December  2016

 

The Cape Dance Company’s latest production, Sacredspace, is triple bill of outstanding works that showcase the dancers’ diversity, endurance and technique. Each of the three pieces has a unique movement vocabulary that affects the audience in a different way.

It opens with the powerful and militant ‘Enemy Behind the Gates’ by Christopher L Huggins which, making use of the full depth of the stage and a huge cast, is a fast and frantic piece that hardly gives the audience a chance to breathe. The unrelenting score by Steven Reich is interpreted with a strong, crisp dynamic from the dancers, who maintain their energy and ferocity of movement throughout. The often linear stage patterns and the angularity of movement are effectively reflected in the continuously morphing lighting design by William Grant, resulting in a complete sensory attack.

More stunning lighting is created in the second piece with Wilhelm Disbergen’s curtain of hanging lights for ‘Cliffnotes’ choreographed by Andrea Schermoly. A slightly calmer piece, it is just as affecting for its human content and connections, with beautifully crafted duets such as the one between Marlin Zoutman and Ipeleng Merafe. There are some very interesting choreographic quirks throughout the cleanly performed work, and the only disruption to the flow is the regular and sometimes jarring changes in music.

But in an evening of spectacular works the stand out performance is the raw yet delicately detailed ‘A Thousand Shepherds’ by Jose Agudo, danced to resonating music by Vincenzo Lamagna. It is a masterful choreography that journeys from a sensitive gestural beginning and builds to a relentless fervor of blurring turns and throws that are reminiscent of the aesthetic of world-renowned choereographer Akram Khan whom Agudo has spent many years working alongside. His Spanish heritage is also clearly evident in the dancers’ body rhythms and flamenco-esque arm and wrist shapes. It is a compelling ensemble work that pushes the dancers to a different realm not only in their physicality but performativity. They commit to the guttural dynamic of the movement with such intensity that it is somehow purging to watch.

The entire evening is a display of some of the best and up-and-coming dance talent in South Africa performing varied and engaging choreographies. It is a must see, especially the riveting ‘A Thousand Shepherds’.

 

 

                                                       

                                                       SACRED SPACES

Artscape Theatre 2016

Dates:            till Dec 10, 2016

 

                                                        Posts in "Psssst! Look Here."

                                                        By Siophan Cassidy,  5 December  2016

 

At a time when the arts – like journalism and even life as we know it – seems to be under threat of extinction, Sacred Spaces gives us a peek at a wide scope of what survival might look like.

The show, by the neoclassical Cape Dance Company, comprises three pieces: Enemy Behind The Gates, Cliffnotes, and A Thousand Shepherds.

Christopher Huggins’ Enemy Behind The Gates has never seemed so relevant. This representation of power and grace really strikes a chord at a time when we seldom see the two combined in life.

In this powerful piece one gets glimpses of individuals – each one stronger, more beautiful, and even more certain than the next – but mostly we see a group united by a military precision and a graceful dedication to the whole.

Enemy is edge-of-your-seat dance that leaves the audience breathless, wondering what the hell could come next. It left me reflecting on the choices we are told we must make, the black and whiteness of it all, the idea that we can only have power or grace.

If these beautiful, graceful soldier-dancers are the enemy behind the gates let them in immediately please.

Cliffnotes, the premiere of the work by South African-born choreographer Andrea (Andi) Schermoly, leads us into a more reflective mode.

Schermoly trained at the National School of the Arts under Vyvyan Lorrayne before studying at Rambert Ballet and Contemporary School and the Royal Ballet School in London. She has danced with Boston Ballet and the Netherlands Dance Theatre and now works as a freelance choreographer and performer. She lives in California.

The title of this piece is an American expression that refers to study notes, what others might call crib sheets. It is a series of vignettes, fluid, expansive movement set to the music of Tom Waits, Ludovico Einaudi and Rob Fidel, with lighting design by Wilhelm Disbergen.

We get glimpses of moments and feel flashes of emotion as we catch our breath and regain our equilibrium. Cliffnotes’ beautiful snapshots help us to transition from the breathless excitement of Enemy Behind The Gates to the deeply meditative A Thousand Shepherds. (I sense the hand of CDC artistic director Debbie Turner.)

Sacred Spaces ends with Spanish-UK choreographer José Agudo’s acclaimed work that skillfully takes the audience on a spiritual journey that borders on the religious.

This is a piece that reminds one of how many choices there are, that power and grace are, in fact, not just opposite ends of a continuum. There two can be combined in millions of meaningful ways, just like one doesn’t have to choose between the course or the cliffnotes, most people settle on a combination of the two.

 

 

                                                       

                                                       A THOUSAND SHEPHERDS

National Arts Festival 2016, Grahamstown

Dates:             Sunday 15:00 and 19:00 July 2016

Venue:           Transnet Great Hall

 

                                                        Herald

                                                        By Ann Knight

 

Debbie Turner of Cape Dance Company has done it again. This superb show was loudly applauded by everyone in the audience.

CDC latest show “A Thousand Shepherds,” which was choreographed by Jose Agudo, a Spanish/English choreographer, is world class.

Formulated from the idea of an Ashram in India, with the music distinctly Indian. The performance starts as the Sitar and drums softly bring in the early morning before the sun rises, and the fires have to be made. The twirling of the Ashram leader in his shepherd’s skirt, in the style of the Dervishes, awakes the morning sleepers. The music builds to a high tempo as the cast slowly rise from the floor. The whole dance moves, rises, falls and twirls, using their arms in supplication. Then the music changes to the sound of metal on metal and the dancers become Trans like, automated, moving slowly or not at all. It was mesmerising in a religious sense. Then the mood changes again to an aura of sacredness and intense spirituality.  Finally moving back to a more interaction and peaceful state.

CONVIVENCIA

Choreographed and danced by: Mthuthuzeli November.

I have watched this young man while he was still a student of Turner’s; he is now world class and dances in London. This piece was amazing. Beautifully crafted using his superb technique in an intricate expression of style at once tender and then energetic. I could have watched him for an hour. He was so inspiring.    

ENEMY BEHIND THE GATES

Choreographed by: The American Christopher L Huggins.

They look like you.. they act like you..they live like you but, they are not one of you. The gate is not invincible but it is yours to secure.

This unbelievably energetic piece is precise to the tenth degree. They move with military like precision across the stage, changing and interchanging. The technique of the dancers is amazing as it is very fast moving. One of the cast, Londiwe Khoza, was recently announced the winner of Rolex Mentor prize for dance, will take up a year of intense, one-on-one collaboration with a renowned choreographer in 2016-2017 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. She is magnificent now can’t wait to see what she will become. This company blends neo-classical and contemporary dance styles with a hybrid flavour of Africa fusion to create worldwide original works.

 

 

                                                       

                                                       A THOUSAND SHEPHERDS

KKNK 2016

 

                                                       Facebook Newsfeed

                                                       Wim Vorster, 3 April 2016

 

Under the watchful, strict and very creative eye of Artistic Director Debbie Turner her Cape Dance Company, which relies entirely on sponsorships, presented two triple bills at KKNK 2016 namely 'Blue' and 'A Thousand Shepherds', both the titles of works as well. In all six pieces (the other four being 'Scenes' and 'In The Mirror of Her Mind'; 'Convivencia' and 'Enemy Behind The Gates') the standard of choreography and execution was extraordinarily high and can compare with anything elsewhere in the world.

However, choreographer Jose Agudo’s 2014 work A Thousand Shepherds - set to music composed in conjunction with Agudo and especially for this purpose by Vinz “The Artist” - will remain one of the finest dance productions I’ve ever experienced. And I’ve seen some. Agudo in fact visited the company to teach them the choreography. The original Dramaturge is Lou Cope, Dramaturge for CDC is Nathalie Vijver and costumes were designed by Kimie Nakano.

The music shows extremely subtle influences of flamenco, contemporary art music and the haunting sounds of Himalayan instruments. Agudo, born in Spain, indeed spent some time in an ashram ( a spiritual hermitage or a monastery in Indian religions). Somebody described the music as a monotone working up to a crescendo, yet it’s infinitely but delicately varied in intonation, melody, nuance and tempo.

Dance, in my not so humble opinion, is the most spiritual of all the arts. A Thousand Shepherds epitomises this. To me it portrays Samsara:- the repeating cycle of birth, life and death (reincarnation) as well as one's actions and consequences in the past, present, and future.

The ballet starts of with everyone on the floor and a single dancer lighting a small fire. (In mime of course.) No big bang. Merely the gentle germination of life. Sowing the seeds. Calling a soul into existence. Then all souls. From thereon it builds through primordial beings, large herds, to individual humans breaking away each in search of and caught up in eternity. There are swirls, jerks, jumps, jetés, pirouettes, and abstract movements in counterpoint to the music. The portrayal develops through stages of prayer, meditation, jubilation, humiliation, exultation and eventual transportation. Finally the dancer turns back to bless the earth. Ultimate transition. All souls in all universes are at one with the Extreme Spirit.

A Thousand Shepherds displays the boundless energy of the dancers, their thorough training, their focus (which doesn’t waver for a single second) and concentration, their precision which somehow never hampers the interpretation, their total abandon in one coherent unit. It’s not merely a visual and aural experience, it’s also sensual, intellectual and above all spiritual. Devouring this was a privilege and I returned for a second helping. In both instances I only realised I was on my feet once I'd shouted several bravos.

Dancer noble Eduard Greyling was curator of dance for KKNK 2016.

 

 

                                                       

                                                       INTERPLAY

ARTSCAPE THEATRE

7 November 2017

                                                      Argus

                                                      Beverley Brommert

 

Grace, athleticism and polish are hallmarks of performances from the Cape Dance Company (CDC), and all three are manifest in this, their collage of neo-classical and contemporary dance works for the 2017 season.

 Programme A, featured on opening night, offers a satisfying combination of old and new: two stimulating works are premiered, one is having its Cape Town debut, and two are signature pieces which have become firmly established favourites with CDC’s audiences.

 The company’s graduate Mthuthuzeli November shows his choreographic mettle in Sun – The Rite of Passage, and Visceral, which is visually arresting and full of evocative tableaux.  Its large cast conveys the impression of a single organic, living whole.

 The ensemble’s collective performance underpins strong solos from Carmen Lotz (the Mother) and Odwa Makanda (the Son), who bring dynamism and tenderness to their roles in this odyssey of a young man finding his way towards adulthood.

 November’s imaginative choreography is enhanced by earthy colours and ingenious lighting designed by Wilhelm Disbergen.  Kirsten Isenberg’s newly commissioned Hush has serious undertones beneath its surface elegance.  The title denotes repression of speech and consequently, freedom of expression, a metaphor for disempowerment and its attendant apathy.

 This piece is ushered in by a robust pas de deux from a cross-dressed duo, executed against a backdrop on which synonyms for silence are scrawled; their vivid performance is succeeded by a more subdued pas de trois from more conventially attired dancers, then  a neatly performed female duet.

 Costumes designed by Debbie Turner and Fagrie Nasiep give a nod to period dress with a touch of whimsy.

 American choreographer Christopher Huggins’s When Dawn Comes has lost none of its dewy freshness, and soufflé-light execution from the dancers shows technical proficiency.

 Of the five works in Programme A, November’s Visceral is undoubtedly the most eye-catching with its bold geometry and strong colours.  Danced to music by CDC graduate Peter Johnson, it makes serious demands on its executants’ athleticism as it teases out the interplay of light and shadow.

 The CDC’s performance of Huggins’s Bolero to the well-known music of Ravel makes a fitting finale, simmering with lust and steaming with energy.

 

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