Dance, Making It Visual

UCT Student vs UCT Dancer

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Dancer: Anderson Carvalho

Did you know that UCT has a Dance School? 

You have probably heard of students studying dance at the University of Cape Town (UCT) or perhaps you might have met a student. Dance has evolved so much and personally as a UCT School of Dance student, it’s time to have a little more insight about what the dancers really do or should I say study.

All of a sudden dance is always about doing the splits and turning multiple times, performing the unnatural human things everyday, like shaping themselves into distorted positions, jumping extremely high and stretching beyond the natural limits. Let me inform you that these ideologies around what dance is all about and what becoming a dancer requires needs to be clarified. Firstly the UCT School of Dance is not a platform where dancers stretch everyday, take a couple physical dance classes and leave. It is a space where the dance students equip themselves to either become a dance performer, teacher or researcher. Before I provide you in detail with what these three streams offer the main question is, what is the meaning of studying dance to you? Your knowledge about dance is only about the two factors that dance is physically demanding and mentally draining, however UCT is an academic institution and being part of the University, the School of Dance too is very academic.

When you meet a dancer, don’t just ask about how sore this/her feet are? It’s not just about physicality and training to do vast back bends and split jumps. Dance is political, in all aspects. Ask about the upcoming performances. Many choreographers that make works today use their art as a mechanism to educate, embodying political issues ranging from racism, sexism, femininity, culture identity, ones personal struggles, violence, everyday life experiences and more.

Yes dance is extremely strenuous, the ability and demands are high, not to mention our competition, don’t even go there…Balancing strength and flexibility is a physical journey for every dancer, gymnast, sportsman or any physical career for that matter. The body is a temple and as a dancer the journey is about finding their limits, working with their weaknesses and developing an identity as an artist, for myself as a white South African female. Identity is huge and again in dance it’s a journey of self -discovery. Basically what a students university is all about, not just about the studies, but about finding yourself.

What is like being a South African dance student at the University of Cape Town? And what does it even mean to study dance?

The theory consists of many courses:

African Dance History:  which deals with the history of Africa and how the history has affected South African dance today.

Western Dance History: The history of the West, the pioneers in American and German Modern Dance.

Choreography: Choreographers dance works that made history compared to the choreographers of today. Writing reviews on their works, understanding the techniques and choreographic devices of choreographing as well as site specific dance works.

Performance Studies: graphic design, lighting, business studies, sound and stage production.

Musicology: History and evolution of music in the West and in Africa. This includes notation and instrumentation.

Anatomy: anatomical structure of the body.

Dance Teachers Method: child development, the cognitive and physical development of a child, which is very important when teaching a child dancing (their bodies are so pliable). Learning the codified dance technique as well as teaching creative dance, which deals with the multiple intelligences of Gardeners Theory.

Next time you approach a dance student, ask when their next show is, ask about the gender discourses, homosexuality. It’s post modernism, not the baroque period people, please expand your knowledge. We are students just like a normal acedemic student just with dance in front of it…

Visit the University of Cape Town School of Dance website for more information.

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MEGHAN TRAINOR Responds to South African Dancer RUDI SMIT’s YOUTUBE Video to “ME TOO”

 

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Meghan Trainor Responds to Rudi Smits video (Photo: GREATSTOCK/SPLASH/YOUTUBE/@RUDI SMIT)

RUDI SMIT, a Cape Town based dancer and choreographer uploaded a dance video to YouTube on the 6th of September 2016 of MEGHAN TRAINORS hit single ME TOO’. Just after 24 hours Meghan responded to the video via twitter.

23 year old, Rudi Smit who has been choreographing since he was 12, caught the attention of the US pop celebrity singer-songwriter MEGHAN TRAINOR.

He uploaded a video to YouTube of his crew known as “UNTIMITIVE” dancing in Milnerton, in Plumstead to renowned celebrity MEGHAN TRAINORS hit single “ME TOO.” He did not think that his video would become a sensation overnight. The video went viral in less than 24 hours reaching over 26 000 views. When the video eventually reached an estimate of 260 000 views Meghan Trainor tweeted her response.

“WOW WOW WOW UNBELIEVEABLE” she said.

 Could she of said wow one more time? An emphatic semantic triplet. This figure of expression reveals how speechless she was. The literate meaning of repeating herself suggests that she was more than flabbergasted. This shows that not was it only beyond her belief to see South African dancers perform and put together a dance music video. It just shows that the dance industry in South Africa has been recognized. Trainor’s tweet has opened many doors for the South African dancers to continue exploring and performing. It was about time that the world knew about what the South African dancers have to offer.

Furthermore, Rudi responded exactly 50 minutes later via twitter.

He was in awe of the fact that she tweeted the video. Anyone would be if a celebrity’s official account responded to you. He showed support by stating he “LOVES” in capital letters her music, which to a large extent shows great appreciation towards Meghan as an artist. In future he will probably be choreographing more dance works to her music…

Due to Rudi being well-known in the dance industry this viral thread that was choreographed and co-directed by Rudi himself, was the opened door to an extremely successful career. The fact Megan responded to his tweet, shows that not has it only given Rudi worldwide recognition, but it has revealed the South African talent.

Consequently social media is a very powerful tool when it comes to promotional work and marketing. Being able to market oneself as an artist by posting a video, which can go viral in 24 hours, is insane. The thought of making heaps amount of money and becoming a sensation in 24 years shows how incredibly influential the media is. The vastness of a celebrity contacting someone over a form of social media is unbelievable. One response can either build someone’s reputation or break it down. Rudi is now famous, because of Meghan, he will forever be remembered for his excellent dance works, especially since Meghan tweeted him back, it is scarcely credible, but overall a great response.

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A Vegan Boer?

 

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Now, many of you who are South Africans know how Afrikaners absolutely adore their meat. It’s chicken for lunch, lamb for dinner, and maybe some biltong for a snack. It’s basically tradition. Eating game is a lifestyle, not a choice; they eat, sleep, and live their meat.

As South Africans, the best get together is the good old traditional ‘braai’, which is short for ‘braaivleis’, meaning grilled meat. South Africa is known for its wildlife and delicious game, hence the meat obsession. “National Heritage Day” to “National Braai Day”, and is celebrated on 24 September. A day full of braais.

A time to light the fire, get together with your mates and eat a flip load of meat. The meat at a braais is usually Droërwors, rump steak, kudu, oxtail, chicken strips, pork chops and chicken kebabs, accompanied by some drinks and music. A giant meat gathering. If anything, Boers are known for being the gods of the good old South African ‘braais’. The biggest carnivores amongst the human race.

Some shops such as the ‘Boer and the Butcher’ are even run by Afrikaans owners, the words are even derived from the language. Hopefully you have an idea about the Afrikaans culture now and how meat is religious.

Recently I have noticed that, attending a braai, there are many stigmas around braais, firstly the men light the fire and hold the tongs, whilst the ladies prepare the table and salads and desserts, as if females can’t braai? As you can see, if you are a female vegan attending a braai, it might be easier to bring the salad, but if you are a vegan male, apparently your masculine side to you disappears. It’s like feminine being a vegan? What?

I know that if you are a vegan, bringing your chickpea or lentil patty might not be the best idea. The Afrikaners or, let’s get a little more intense, ‘normal’ South Africans might look at you as if you are a some sort of alien. To them you are seen as the bottom of the food chain and quite foreign. Worst of all the whole evening, will be targeted to you, not in a good way. In a way, you’re the ugly duckling of the lot.

Jokes will flare up and the evening will revolve around why you are such a disgrace to South Africans, or any other countless veganism-related questions. Where do you get your protein? Don’t you lack iron? Don’t you miss meat? And, the best question of all, what do you even eat?

Instead, it’s safe to bring a salad and some wine. Bringing a vegan patty is like walking into a church service listening to Lady Gaga’s hit single ‘Judah’. So just bring the salad…

Who is this Vegan Boer? 

Now that you understand how Afrikaner’s and the majority of South African’s love their meat, I introduce to you Adrian, the waiter who served my mother and I at the BOCCA DOLCE vegan restaurant in Plettenberg Bay. Adrian truly is a lovely young gentleman, who is super passionate about veganism. We had a 20 minute conversation with him before even being shown to our table.

Not only is he a vegan…he is a BOER. Now those two most definitely do not gel together. Some may see his veganism as a departure from his heritage.

I have to disagree. People can be very pedantic when it comes to vegans. If you don’t eat meat as a South African, especially an Afrikaner, they isolate themselves from you and ‘skeef’ you out. Most traditional Afrikaners don’t know how to approach you, they just tend to make fun of the veganism. They despise you, because not eating meat is like a sin. Being vegan to them is as if you serve a different God… which vegans do. We don’t follow the norm.

“Vegan Boer is practically an oxymoron…So how does Adrian exists as a vegan in a culture where meat is religion?

This passionate Afrikaans Vegan, who served my mother and I the most delicious vegan food on planet Earth, was the most down to earth (excuse the pun) man I have ever met. He is not hostile towards non-vegans, very open to questions and loves hearing your vegan story. This vegan Boer’s testimony is definitely worth your time. Being a vegan for 8 months I was I intrigued and asked many questions around veganism.

Adrian is super knowledgeable about vegan food and the body. Chatting to him opened up my eyes to gain more understanding, factual understanding about veganism. He has chatted to many vegans, ferreting information from many different sources and experience.

After all, being a waiter at a vegan restaurant one would tend to meet many vegans with different stories…

As a vegan, the restaurants in Plettenberg Bay are not particularly vegan friendly, which makes life quite difficult when eating out, until I heard about ‘Bocca Dolce’ vegan farm.

A VEGAN FARM? How insane? Usually it would just be a restaurant, but not ‘BOCCA DOLCE’, an Italian word for ‘sweet mouth’. The name says it all, describing their delicious buffet, offering a variety of foods from salads, pizzas, burgers, fruits, roasted potatoes, spaghettie bolognese, vegetable curries,  hot dogs and more. These vegans do not mess around, they satisfy all your taste buds.

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Photo Credits: Management

If you want pastry, you have it, if you want cake, it’s yours. They grow their own organic vegetables, which they use for their restaurant. Nothing better knowing you are eating fresh organic products. In addition, their bread is freshly baked and their coffee is made from pure Italian beans, not to mention they handcraft and manufacture Classic Raw Wood Furniture. This place is like a found treasure chest to any health freak, not just vegans. It’s fresh and everybody loves fresh. Well, I should hope so.

I am always intrigued to hear how someone became a vegan, and every vegan’s story is different. Becoming a vegan is a whole lifestyle change; it’s not just a diet. Adrian’s story really is special, intriguing, and touching. Something I have never heard of, or think will ever come across again.