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Not only will KwaZulu-Natal’s pride and joy in African contemporary dance, The Flatfoot Dance Company, soon kick off with a stellar season, but three new dancers have also been added to the company.
The artistic director at Flatfoot, Lliane Loots, says that South-South – the company’s first show for the year – will feature two new creations, one by Liz Lea from Australia and another from Loots herself.
“Liz will be teaching extensive classes to numerous Durban-based dance programmes, but the highlight will be creating a work with Flatfoot Dance Company’s six resident dancers and a further six auditioned guest dancers, some of whom include big names like Jarryd Watson and Sanele Mzinyane,” she says.
Loots’s new work will stage alongside Lea’s and will signal a continued collaboration between the company and the musicians Madala Kunene, a renowned maskanda player, and master drummer Mandla Matsha.
With a week-long run, South-South will open at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on March 28.
A feather in the Flatfoot cap is that the company has also been invited back to the Arena Platform of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this year, following their win of an Ovation Award for Loots’s 2011 dance theatre work, Bhakti.
After Flatfoot held auditions late last year, attracting more than 40 professional dancers from all over the country, three new dancers were selected to join the company.
“It was no easy choice having to narrow it down to only three dancers,” says Loots.
Nonetheless, the best were selected, resulting in the addition of Lerato Lipere, Julia Wilson and Tshediso Kabulu to the team.
London-born Lipere got her dance training at the London Contemporary Dance School and has worked professionally in the UK with companies like Tavaziva Dance Company and Ace Dance and Music in Birmingham.
The grandchild of exiled grandparents, Lipere returns to SA to work with Flatfoot having spent most of her life in the UK.
“I liked the political and social issues that the Company tackles,” she says.
“I’m a professional dancer of 25 years and I’ve been looking to come and live in South Africa permanently because I have family here.”
Another “import” of talent is Kabulu who has relocated to Durban from Bloemfontein.
“I am looking forward to working with Flatfoot as the Company is not just about dance, but it has a lot of rural projects which I’m excited about,” he says.
Wilson, meanwhile, is no stranger to the Durban stage and many would remember her from Caroline Smart’s Nkanyezi, Timberlake Wertenbaker’s The Love of the Nightingale (staged last year by the University of KZN’s drama department) and more recently Verne Rowin Munsamy’s Journeying Home.
While she has more recently studied drama, dance has been a lifelong passion.
“After South-South we’ll work on Mapping Nostalgia which looks at our histories, discovering what we are nostalgic about, and mapping the future.
“I’m also looking forward to a project we have coming up close to the border of Mozambique where we’ll be working with children from disadvantaged backgrounds,” she says.
Loots says she is delighted with how the company is looking and working as it heads into 2012.
“It is a choreographer’s delight to have new energy and new bodies to create dance with, and I am grateful to have dancers, old and new, who understand and want to live our shared vision of dance performance and education excellence for Flatfoot,” she says.