Dance Umbrella unfurls in new venue

The year's Dance Umbrella opening night was a mild affair.

The annual dance festival that has been taking place around Johannesburg for 30 years opened on Sunday at the SA State Theatre in Pretoria, that has taken over due to a lack of funding for the event.

The festival opened with two beautiful pieces that fused pantsula dance and contemporary dance.

Festival curator Mamela Nyamza, a well-known fan of works that prick emotions, had all of us confused.

With many productions featuring experienced dancers, people looked forward to a highly exciting night of dance.

It featured dance pieces Yours Truly, Gavel and My Journey, My Foot Work.

As much as the pieces were good, the "wow factor" was missing.

The night started out with the launch of a book by seasoned journalist Adrienne Sichel, titled Body Politics: Fingerprinting South African Contemporary Dance.

In the book, Sichel presents her years of experience writing with a vast collection of research material on the evolution of contemporary dance in SA.

Yours Truly, Gavel is an interesting piece which was choreographed and performed by renowned dancers Sonia Radebe, Lulu Mlangeni, Julia Burnham and Teresa Mojela.

The quartet presented an exciting concept looking at how time changes and how we see things changing.

It looks at the ever-changing influence to the world and how bodies bear the evidence.

It was well conceptualised and creatively executed by the experienced dancers. However, the piece ended before one could really grasp it.

The second piece was My Journey, My Foot Work, which was led by Eddie Ndou with the Troupe de Dance Dancers. Ndou focused on the journey of young artists faced with challenges of the unemployment rate and poverty using pantsula dance.

There is nothing as exciting as watching pantsulas do their thing. The piece started with a high pace and energy and the audience was excited.

But the introduction of acting within the dance lost the audience. When they went back to tell the story via dance, they employed the famous pantsula quick-stepping style and floor tapping. Their energy excited the crowd.

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