J ozi dance festival makes right moves

JOHANNESBURG dance fans will be delighted to know that the New Dance Festival 2009 is just around the corner.

Dance has over the past few years proved to be a growing art form with a solid following. The ever-improving Dance Umbrella's audience keeps growing.

Contemporary dancers and choreographers have also taken their place alongside their classical dance colleagues, creating a vibrant dance landscape in Jozi.

The New Dance Festival presents a selection of contemporary works, by invitation, of local and international artists and companies.

It will feature choreographers from South Africa, Mozambique, Morocco, Italy and Switzerland.

Funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Pro Helvetia, Arts & Culture Trust; Breadline Africa, the French Institute of South Africa, French Embassy in South Africa and the Italian Institute of Culture, the 10-day New Dance Festival 2009 will be presented at the Wits Theatre and Dance Factory from August 19 to August 29.

The festival opens on August 19 and August 20 at the Dance Factory, Newtown, at 7.30pm, with five works created for the Fringe programme.

They are: Lucky Kele's Last Point, a work he created from a residency programme in the US; Tsepiso Phetlu's and Ntsane Mopeli's collaborative creation Pretty Faces. Mziyanda Mankam and Refilwe Montsho, who both attended the recent Dance Umbrella Residency programme, will present untitled works. A collaboration between Frans Ramoba, Thabo Komape and Thabiso Lekuba entitled Lufuno completes the programme.

On August 21 and on August 22 at the Dance Factory at 7pm, Sello Pesa will present Totems.

Totems questions traditions and their relevance to modern society. It does this, not from a clichéd African perspective of lions, nature, drums and the spirit, but from a more subtle viewpoint. Much more subtle than words because words can only say so much and not explain human complexity and human identity and where they come from, where they are at present and where they wish to be.

Also on August 21 and August 22 at the Wits Theatre at 8pm, Gregory Maqoma will present his FNB Dance Umbrella 2009 commissioned work Skeleton Dry.

Ken Arok choreographed by the Standard Bank Young Artist 2009 recipient Thabo Rapoo will be presented on August 24 and August 25 at the Wits Theatre at 7pm. Rapoo, resident choreographer at Moving into Dance Mophatong, studied Prawiraguna (classical dance) at the Pendhapa School in the Mangkunegaren Palace in Surakarta, Indonesia, for three months last year. In Ken Arok he fuses Indonesian classical dance and philosophy (Kejawen) with African dance rituals and also interrogates the similarities and differences between the African and Indonesian experiences.

These are just a few of the many dance productions you can enjoy at the festival.