Cel­e­brat­ing Madiba’s legacy through dance

Post - - FRONT PAGE - latoya.new­man@inl.co,.za LATOYA NEW­MAN

The dance drama Madiba Magic – Heart for Art, which traced the legacy of for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela through epoch mo­ments in his life by the youth wing of the South African In­dian Dance Al­liance, was staged at the Play­house in Dur­ban at the week­end.

The shows were part of its three-day Yuva Fes­ti­val and com­mem­o­rated Madiba’s 100th birth an­niver­sary.

The al­liance was founded by In­dian clas­si­cal dancer and teacher Smeetha Ma­haraj, who di­rected the pro­duc­tion. Among the mul­ti­cul­tural dancers were, Primesh­nie Goven­der and Son­ali Hariper­sad.

SARANYA De­van is a young chore­og­ra­pher who is mak­ing her mark on the arts scene, but while she keeps abreast with mod­ern trends in the in­dus­try to­day, she be­lieves in re­main­ing grounded in tra­di­tion and his­tory.

De­van was in­volved in the week­end’s Yuva Fes­ti­val, hosted by the SA In­dian Dance Al­liance (Saida) at the Play­house, as part of the script­ing team, one of the dancers and jug­gling mat­ters on the tech­ni­cal front.

She has also chore­ographed De­mur­ral – a protest-based work that pays homage to our fore­fa­thers who fought against apartheid. “It also nar­rates how we ‘born frees’ are the prod­ucts of blood-soaked soil who are ready to face the world with op­ti­mism, con­fi­dence and fresh en­ergy.”

As a young artist in­volved in the fes­ti­val and Madiba Magic – Heart for Art – a dance drama which traces the legacy of for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela through epoch mo­ments – De­van said many youth are too young to have a full un­der­stand­ing of the re­pres­sion and op­pres­sion that con­fronted the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion.

“The younger gen­er­a­tion is also not fully aware of the hard­ship and sac­ri­fices Madiba en­dured to en­sure South Africa would be a bet­ter place for all.

“The per­for­mance in­cor­po­rated dances and songs that were specif­i­cally cho­sen to re­flect dif­fer­ent mes­sages that Nel­son Man­dela had for the born-free gen­er­a­tion.

“Nel­son Man­dela of­ten said that the youth, as the fu­ture of our coun­try, have an im­por­tant part to play in shap­ing our new demo­cratic Con­sti­tu­tion.

“He also stressed that this gen­er­a­tion of youth stands at the bor­der­line be­tween the past of op­pres­sion and the fu­ture of pros­per­ity, peace and har­mony,” she said.

De­van has clas­si­cally trained in the South In­dian dance style of Bharatanatyam for the last 17 years. She is study­ing Hon­ours in drama and per­for­mance stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity of KwaZu­luNatal, with ma­jors in dance in ed­u­ca­tion and dance and chore­og­ra­phy.

She firmly be­lieves there is space to be young and “rel­e­vant” in to­day’s world, while still hold­ing true to tra­di­tion.

“Be­ing young does not mean you must aban­don your tra­di­tional her­itage, val­ues and cus­toms,” she said.

A key part in her pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment has been plat­forms such as the Saida or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“In April 2016, Smeetha Ma­haraj brought to­gether a group of dance teach­ers to form the SA In­dian Dance Al­liance to re­sus­ci­tate tra­di­tional dance forms with con­tem­po­rary en­ergy by mod­ernising the tra­di­tion through the creative process.

“Saida has in­fused a fresh im­pe­tus on the lo­cal dance scene, which is abound­ing with ta­lented, dy­namic and ded­i­cated young artists. Young dancers are blend­ing Bharatanatyam, Kathak, folk and con­tem­po­rary dance items to keep alive the flame of tra­di­tional In­dian danc­ing.”

“Fes­ti­vals such as the Saida Yuva Fes­ti­val give the youth the op­por­tu­nity to be in­volved in tra­di­tional In­dian en­ter­tain­ment. With­out such events where the younger gen­er­a­tion can par­tic­i­pate, the In­dian per­form­ing arts would die a slow death.

“Such fes­ti­vals also give youth the chance to meet with other like-minded young men and women, to make new friends, to ex­plore other cul­tures and to travel to new places.



YOUNG artist Saranya De­van, who was in­volved in the week­end’s Yuva Fes­ti­val, hosted by the SA In­dian Dance Al­liance at the Play­house, be­lieves in be­ing rooted in tra­di­tion as a young per­son. |

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