BY BILLY SUTER
DURBAN’S Flatfoot Dance Company will present an exciting collaborative work, titled Sadhana, at the Playhouse Drama from March 23 to 26.
This newest offering from the same acclaimed team that brought the award-winning Bhakti to Durban, is choreographed by Lliane Loots, who once again steps boldly into Eastern mystical philosophy and its confluence with African rhythms and dance, to create a dance theatre feast for the senses, reports publicist Sharlene Versfeld.
“It is a rare and very precious moment for me to make dance work that allows for a more inward and contemplative artistic journey,” says Loots, “so I am relishing this creative process that allows me to collaborate with Durban’s finest dance and musical talent.
“The very make-up of the cast of dancers and musicians tells a story of multiple histories and identities, and so the chance to explore what being South African means to all of us, in our own divergent artistic ways, is the very fabric of Sadhana.”
Loots teams with the six Flatfoot Dance Company dancers – Sifiso Khumalo, Tshediso Kabulu, Mthoko Mkhwanazi, Jabu Siphika, Kit Mccusker-Bartlett and Zinhle Nzama – who bring their own brand of contemporary African dance that is seeing this company being invited all over the world.
For Sadhana, they are joined by Durban’s Kathak aficionado and master, Manesh Maharaj, known for his intrepid Kathak solo work. This is his third performance collaboration with Loots.
“Manesh is probably one of South Africa’s finest dancers at the moment and both Flatfoot and I have been graced to work collaboratively with him over the past three years
“His ability to share his own Kathak style so generously with us, and his ability to cross borders into contemporary dance, make him the biggest jewel in the Sadhana ‘crown’.
“Sometimes, in rehearsal, I get so mesmerised by his beauty as a dancer that I completely forget my role as choreographer!”
Sadhana refers to a Sanskrit word that means (in loose translation) a journey towards enlightenment that honours both intellectual, emotional and spiritual seeking.
The word is a term rooted in Eastern mystical philosophy and Loots, as choreographer, comes to this to encompass a type of journeying we all do as South Africans, as we fight for memory and the promises of our own ‘enlightenment’.
Sadhana is about what we are prepared to shed in our own voyages to decolonising both the mind and body. Politically powerful and deeply beautiful to watch.
It works on a kind of fusion/trans-cultural dance language that uses the rhythms of classical Indian dance styles (specifically Kathak) overlaid on the African contemporary dancing body – be these ballet or contemporary trained.
The work itself has the aesthetics of a long pilgrimage that is taken by both dancer and audience as we journey into the heart of what defines us as African – as both social and spiritual beings
South African musician Madala Kunene, whose unique African guitar rhythms set up the sound score of the work, is integral to the piece. He is accompanied by djembe drummer Mandla Matsha and tabla player Revash Dookhi
Filmmaker and long-time collaborator with Loots and Flatfoot, Karen Logan created the video installations for Sadhana, and continues her keen attention to creating insightful and visually beautiful landscapes that echo Loots’s choreographic visions.
Lighting is by award-winning designer Wesley Maherry whose creations have found a base in Flatfoot’s work over the past 14 years.
Sadhana will run as an ‘in association production’ with the Playhouse Company from March 23 to 25 at 7.30pm and on March 26 at 3pm. Tickets cost R85 (R65 for students, school pupils and pensioners). Booking is at Computicket.