Celebrating Madiba’s legacy through dance
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. |