Dance, Making It Visual

We were the mud princesses, ballerinas and every little girls dream.

The White Light Festival in Cape Town 2017

The annual White Light Festival was a spontaneous evening filled with artistic performance acts, sculptures and other art forms from around Cape Town. The dazzling light festival celebrates art and wine in December once a year. Jay Pather, a South African choreographer and director of Siwla Sonke Dance Theatre together with choreographer, movement director and creator of musical theatre, Fiona du Plooy, put this extraordinary event together.

Every year the White Light Festival brings families together to celebrate a time with food and wine at the SPIER WINE FARM. One of Cape Town’s most famous and beautiful wine farms in Stellenbosch. The wine farm is known for its soothing red wines, as well as its beautiful hotel and spa. Not to mention the lovely road trip amongst the vineyards and countryside. During the festival the farm is lit up, shining brightly with gaudy lights from the performance acts, fires and lanterns in the forrest and amongst the flowers. This truly is a wonderful time for families and couples to celebrate the festive season accompanied by live music, many performance acts.

As one of the proofers my fellow dancing friends and I were the ballerinas of the night. Covered in clay, clothed in beautiful white dresses and fairy lights, we were dancing amongst the trees, in between acts and around the audience.

The ballet dancers were thrilled to be apart of such an eventful evening. Besides our usual stage and dressing rooms, we made the most of the outdoors. From being staged in professional theatres, with neat make up, pink tights and  pointe shoes to the forrest, hard rocky found, clay and ballet pumps, we are the post modern version of Les Willies.  No matter the site, costuming or music, dance has evolved so much. From training in the studios to dancing amongst the trees, dancing is a beautiful form of art to being light and shine light to a festival full of lights.

Whether we are dancing to the wind or the DJ, dance is movement in any way, with anything, on anything to anything.

Covered with clay from head to toe, brushing our ballet pumps in dirt, gracefully and elegantly performing allegro on grass. This was an awesome experiance. Talk about ones comfort zone. Who said Ballerinas can’t get a little dirty? Not to mention, our costuming was also decorated with live Christmas beetles, they seemed to be attracted to our lights, along with other species of bugs. Every act was unique, amazing and creative in their own way.

It was an honour to be apart of this festival. Truly is worth your time and you don’t want to miss out next year. Every year is different and exciting, so be sure to book your tickets next year. 

For more information visit Spier Wine Farm 

 

 

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Dance, Making It Visual, Uncategorized

Dance is POLITICAL

“Dance needs bodies and every body has a political history” – Talia Lewis

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Dancer: Nuske George    Photography: Nardus Engelbrecht

What do I mean by political?

We understand that politics relates to the public affairs or government of a country. Politics in this post is seen as an act of power. The questions revolved around this power is who defines what is politically correct? Who controls what is ethically and aesthetically correct? In this case, in DANCE.

Dance is extremely complex to define, because it is constantly evolving like a culture. What is meant by this is that culture is a manmade construction, it is not one group of people, but a fusion of many ethnicities and communities. This defines dance today, it is a fusion of dance styles, a community of people from different ethnicities and training backgrounds. In addition to the dance training, the performance world and dance criticism within South Africa, one of the main reasons for the complexity is due to the influence of politics, culture, colonialism and migration. These aspects have hugely impacted the dance world in South Africa more so the perception of South Africa today.

By unpacking the issues within dance such as the body stigmas, which looks at the ideal body of a dancer, the gender discourses and more importantly race. These cultural markers effect how the audience (you) view dance works, which formally creates a perspective of what is ethical and aesthetically pleasing on stage.

By briefly looking into the history of dance in South Africa, Classical Ballet was dominant and seen as a ‘high art’ (a form of art that originates from the West that is strictly for ‘white’ bodies). It was the main form of dance. This is where colonialism took place. The influence of the West, their norms, traditions, dance forms and authenticity has opened many opportunities for South Africa, however created many disadvantages. The confusion in dance lies between the fusion of many dance styles, because politically with colonialism there is this constant search for the truth…What is authentically African? An identity crisis, which still prevails today, especially when it deals with African Dance…

Many dance companies, dance researches and choreographers strive for equality and beg to understand the reason for the restrictions, constraints and boundaries set politically in the dance world in South Africa. Politically this dates back to the Apartheid era and due to historical events as such, dance in South Africa continuously faces political and aesthetical challenges for example why is a white body on a professional stage performing a traditional African dance seen as politically incorrect?

Identity is a huge issue; we all face an identity crisis due to how society shapes our mind and how the media portrays perfection. As a South African audience member and performer we need to rid this notion of what dance is and what it should look like, the history in art has already broken traditions, overstepped boundaries and created a space for us to explore, experiment and express today. One must learn from the past and cease to live in it. Learn to tolerate, adapt and respect the evolving world we live in today.

In South Africa the fact that we are a multicultural audience the question an audience member (you) should ask is who is performing? Where is the performance performed? And what is being performed? For example the dancing that took place during the Apartheid era. The laws of apartheid, the Group Areas Act affected the performance space for dancers. The ‘Blacks’, Indians and Coloureds were not allowed to perform on professional platforms such as Artscape and the Baxter Theatre. They were forbidden due to their race, because white bodies were more privileged…How racist !

Consequently dance is not just a form of entertainment. The body is seen as a political tool, which is used as a powerful mechanism to educate, to change the perception and future of South Africa.

Click here to read about dance being political – It blew my mind !