Choreographer feted by French

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

Robyn Orlin, the "enfant terrible" of South African dance known for telling thought-provoking stories through her complex dance arrangements, is to be honoured by France.

Tomorrow, the choreographer will be knighted in the French National Order of Merit by the ambassador of France, Denis Pietton, at a ceremony to be held at the Dance Café in Newtown.

The award is in recognition of Orlin's spirited and dedicated work in arts and culture.

Founded in 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle, the French National Order of Merit honours French citizens and foreigners for their most remarkable achievements.

Orlin is a world-renowned choreographer who at one stage was referred to as the "enfant terrible" of the South African dance scene before her recognition in Europe in the early 2000s.

Following her training as a dancer at the London Contemporary Dance School, Orlin worked at the Market Theatre, the hub of artistic life in Johannesburg and the centre for the fight against apartheid.

In 1982 she joined the Federated Union of Black Artists Academy where she created a contemporary dance section. In She left for the US in 1980 to pursue studies at the School of Art Institute of Chicago on a Fulbright Scholarship. On her return to South Africa in 1994, she joined the Market Theatre Laboratory as a teacher, where she worked with youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Nicknamed in South Africa as "a permanent irritation", she is well known for reflecting the difficult and complex realities in this country. Over the years, Orlin has been an engaged artist and fought for controversial causes including the condition of women, social abuse and homelessness.

Integrating different media such as text, video and plastic in her various works, she has been investigating a certain theatrical reality which has enabled her to find her unique choreographic vocabulary and question current and historic issues and ways of thinking.

Hotel Polana, a collaboration between Orlin and Chris Pretorius, was banned by the apartheid regime in 1988.