Durban’s inimitable Flatfoot Dance Company this year celebrates its 15th anniversary as one of South Africa’s leading contemporary dance companies.
With a variety of national awards to its name, Flatfoot’s impressive landmark is a testament to a dedicated team of dancers and administrators.
Founder, artistic director and UKZN dance lecturer, Ms Lliane Loots said: ‘It is amazing to sit back and let the reality sink in that we have been doing this for 15 years. It has been the best 15 years of my life – I have interacted with thousands of dancers in our community dance development programmes in KZN, and had the privilege of working with the professional dancers in the company who have journeyed alongside me to give Flatfoot the reputation for excellence that is has.’
To celebrate the special occasion, Flatfoot presented a full-length season of new dance theatre work from 21 – 25 March at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.
With a reputation for edgy, controversial, beautiful and intelligent dance, Flatfoot titled its 15th anniversary season: Things Left Unsaid, which offered two new dance works by Sifiso Khumalo and Loots.
Khumalo, who has worked with Flatfoot for 12 of its 15 years, took on a choreographic role in his work Ndlelanhle (Go well on your journey).
Khumalo, whose reputation as an innovative choreographer has been growing over the past six years, was awarded a prestigious JOMBA! On the Edge choreographic grant for 2017. His insightful and heartfelt attention to traditional Zulu cultural identity and how contemporary modern life has changed how we think about ourselves, is given air in the new work.
On the creation of Ndlelanhle, Khumalo said: ‘In Zulu culture when you leave home for a journey the elders give you a special prayer or blessing. I worry that these small things have been forgotten.
‘These words and blessing mean a lot – they are a reminder that we, as black urban Zulu men and women, still have ancestors guiding us. In Ndlelanhle I wanted to go back to these small blessings and to look at the role the words have on what we become.’
Ndlelanhle also launched the professional careers of Flatfoot’s newest crop of male dancers – Siseko Duba, Ndumiso Dube, Qhawe Ndimande, Sbonga Ndlovu and Mthoko Mkhwanazi.
They all completed a five-year professional development training programme run by Flatfoot and funded by the National Arts Council of South Africa.
Flatfoot Dance Company felt its 15th anniversary year was the right moment to reveal and celebrate the incredible journey of these Newlands- and KwaMashu- based dancers.
In a collaborative process, Loots worked with Jabu Siphika, Zinhle Nzama, Sifiso Khumalo and the five new dancers to interrogate the things we leave unsaid.
Loots said: ‘Like many of my recent works, Things Left Unsaid returns to what fascinates me right now and this is quite basically an earnest plea for intimacy in spite of the violence in our world. I journey with the dancers into some pretty horrifying personal and political territory and am reminded that we are all still standing – and still dancing. In the end this is a triumph of the heart; the bigness of the South African heart.’
On Things Left Unsaid, Loots worked with long-time collaborators Wesley Maherry (lighting), Karen Logan (video installations), and poet Iain ‘ewok’ Robinson.