Faith, courage and joy of dance

Kevin Govender, Charles Phillips, Ohawe Ndimande, Karl Hebbelman and Sifiso Khumalo in Stand By Me.  All pictures in this article are by Val Adamson.


DURBAN’S Flatfoot Dance Company is to present its third annual integrated dance programme working with dancers with Down Syndrome, at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 8.30pm on Tuesday, November 12.

Titled Stand By Me, this landmark, once-off performance will feature the unique partnering of the professional Flatfoot dancers with the fondly-referred to “Flatfoot Downie Dance Company”.

This unique dance programme is unprecedented in South Africa and is a celebration of the power of dance to shift lives and to negotiate difference and inclusivity, says a spokesman.

Flatfoot celebrates its 16th anniversary this year and has, as one of its core values, the practice of dance (in education and in performance) as a tool towards what it calls “living democracy”. This new dance programme celebrates community across the divides of race, gender and disability.

This programme began in August 2017 with the visit of Dutch choreographer Adriaan Luteijn of Introdans and his collaboration with Flatfoot. The company has continued this work over 2018 and 2019, and Stand By Me is the culmination of this year-long programme.

Stand By Me will not only move and delight audiences but will challenge the very core foundations of who we think can and should dance professionally,” says Lliane Loots, Flatfoot’s artistic director. “This dance journey is about learning to stand next to our neighbours and acknowledging their humanity.”

Karl Hebbelman and Sifiso Khumalo in Stand By Me.

Four Flatfoot dancers – Sifiso Khumalo, Siseko Duba, Jabu Siphika and Zinhle Nzama – partner up with their counterparts, Karl Hebbelman, Charles Phillips, Kevin Govender and Michaela Munro in a dance work that is an affirmation of faith, courage and the joy of dance.

Loots, who is the company’s award-winning choreographer, says: “Creating this work has been a journey into discovering community, and into discovering what it means to engage a firm and loving assertion of self and identity.

“All nine of us in the rehearsal room have been forced to look inward and to find the spaces inside ourselves that embrace the true meaning of ‘ubuntu’, and I have been humbled every day by what these dancers bring to our process”.

As two very special curtain-raisers for this evening, Flatfoot will also showcase work it has been doing in its unique 2019 “Junior ADD: Girls to Women” dance programme. In this programme 10 young girls between the ages of 11 and 14 were identified from Flatfoot community dance programmes run in KwaMashu and Umlazi.

“They have been working with the company every Saturday in 2019 for special technical dance skills training, as we believe these amazing girls are the next generation of Durban (and Flatfoot’s) dancers,” says Loots.

“They will perform a work choreographed for them by Flatfoot’s Zinhle Nzama, called Kivuli.”

The second work, titled Fire in Me!, features four Flatfoot Junior Company members (Mthoko Mkhwanazi, Siseko Duba, Nondumiso Dube and Sbonga Ndlovu). This is an athletic, foot-stomping work created for them especially for this event by Flatfoot’s Sifiso Khumalo, who continues to grow a technical style that combines his own African dance roots with contemporary technical training.

The season promises, as always, to be one of the highlights on Durban’s dance calendar and this once-off performance is being offered as a fundraiser to help support the Flatfoot Down Syndrome Dance programme for 2020.

Tickets are limited and cost R80 each. To book contact Pre-booked tickets can be collected at the Sneddon box -office from an hour before the start of the show on November 12.  This is cash payment only as no card facilities are available.

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