THE ART OF change

A new dance piece by chore­og­ra­pher Por­tia Mashigo taps the tal­ent of young tra­di­tional dancers. Siyabonga Sit­hole and pho­tog­ra­pher Leon Sadiki vis­ited a re­hearsal

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The up­stairs stu­dio of Mov­ing into Dance’s space in New­town of­fers a view of the in­ner city. Seven young dancers are warm­ing up with award-win­ning chore­og­ra­pher Por­tia Mashigo. A hawk-eye fixed on each of them, she calls out their mis­takes, hon­ing their skills.

As their re­hearsal be­gins, they reach for their props – um­brel­las. It’s fit­ting that they’ll be mak­ing their big stage de­but at the an­nual Dance Um­brella, then.

They’ve never per­formed in a con­tem­po­rary dance piece be­fore – let alone a pro­fes­sional one. Their ex­pe­ri­ence is as tra­di­tional street dancers within their com­mu­ni­ties in Lim­popo and North West. Pantsula, Sara­fina dance, and Tswana and Pedi tra­di­tional moves.

Ti­tled More In Than Out of Time, the piece draws en­er­get­i­cally on their street moves, adding a ve­neer of so­phis­ti­ca­tion from Mashigo.

The work, she says, is in­spired by “a new be­gin­ning, fresh­ness, a clean can­vas that is about to be moulded into some­thing dear and unique. It is also about the com­ing to­gether of gen­er­a­tions as the young dancers be­gin a new jour­ney in con­tem­po­rary dance, and a sharing of tal­ents and skills.”

In a coun­try where con­tem­po­rary dance bat­tles to find au­di­ences and bud­gets, prac­ti­tion­ers like Mashigo have de­voted their time to de­vel­op­ing the future of the form – as a tan­gi­ble, mean­ing­ful skill within com­mu­ni­ties. Her dance can bring change, a healthy life­style and a mode of ex­pres­sion.

Af­ter the re­hearsal ended, we chat­ted to some of the dancers.

An­dries Tl­hasedi (25) reck­ons this “op­por­tu­nity of a life­time” will al­low him to plough back into his com­mu­nity what he has been for­tu­nate to learn. “I am now more con­fi­dent as a dancer, having learnt new things over the past weeks of work­shops and train­ing.”

Pen­ver Mathe­bula (25) says the train­ing has left her body in an ex­cel­lent con­di­tion, though adapt­ing to the new meth­ods has meant push­ing her­self “to the limit”.

Nobantu Ban­gani (31) adds: “We as dancers have to con­stantly chal­lenge our­selves with new skills and in­for­ma­tion.” More In Than Out of Time is part of the Arts Alive Dance Um­brella. It will be per­formed at the Wits

The­atre next Sun­day, Au­gust 31, at 7pm


Por­tia Mashigo COME RAIN OR SHINE Tra­di­tional dancers from Lim­popo and Klerks­dorp en­ter the world of con­tem­po­rary dance in prepa­ra­tion for the Dance Um­brella

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