Mzansi meets Kenya in unique dance exchange project

Flatfoot dancers Zinhle Nzama and Jabu Siphika. Picture: Val Adamson

Flatfoot dancers Zinhle Nzama and Jabu Siphika. Picture: Val Adamson

Published Feb 25, 2023


Durban’s Flatfoot Dance Company headed Kenya on Friday for a two-week exchange project with Nairobi and Siaya-based Dance Into Space.

This initiative forms part of a collaboration project headed by Flatfoot’s Dr Lliane Loots and Warwick University’s Professor Yvette Hutchison.

The project is set up by a network of African choreographers, researchers and dancers under the umbrella African Disability Dance Network (ADDN).

Alongside a portfolio of award-winning performance work, Flatfoot’s integrated dance work has seen it nationally spearhead work with dancers with Down syndrome, and its numerous programmes with dancers with physical disabilities.

This exchange programme will see Flatfoot’s dancers share and learn from sister dance company Dance Into Space (DIS), headed by Ondiege Matthew.

DIS aims to share artistic skills with people from all walks of life and to create work that crosses all sorts of borders, both physical, cultural and social.

Jabu Siphika. Picture: Val Adamson

Loots and Matthew, who met first in Nairobi in 2019 and have kept a strong connection over the lockdown years, now finally get to meet in a dance studio.

“I cannot begin to say how excited I am by this opportunity to work with Ondiege. He is a man whose dance work and vision are blazing trails in Africa,” said Loots.

“While our friendship is strong, being able to move together and share creative energy is a dream. I remain so humbled by Ondiege’s agenda to create deeply humanising integrated dance practices in Africa. I am looking forward to learning from him!”

Seasoned dancers Sifiso Khumalo, Jabu Siphika and Zinhle Nzama will take part in the exchange programme.

Matthew and some of his DIS Kenyan dancers will travel to Durban to the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2024 to share their work with South African audiences and dancers.