An African proverb says, “Home is not where we live; home is where you belong”. It is that safe place where one is worthy of love and belonging.
Sociologist Brene Brown describes our deep sense of love and belonging as “an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick”.
A sense of home circles much wider than our households. We find belonging in our families. We belong to a culture. We belong to a nation.
Confucius emphasises the pervasiveness of our sense of home when he says, “The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home”. Do we feel like we belong in our homes? Do we feel protected and safe, valued and respected in our nation?
These are some of the questions that choreographers Ignatius van Heerden, Sonia Radebe, Takita Mestre and Mari-Claire van Heerden will be addressing in Oakfields College Faculty of Dance and Musical Theatre’s dance season, Home.
Under the artistic direction of dance expert David April, the season offers an integrated look at the significance of “home” as expressed by the four choreographers’ individual creative voices, exploring what the concept represents to young people living in post-apartheid South Africa.
Standard Bank Ovation award winner 2017 and Oakfields College dance lecturer Van Heerden’s work is based on the true story of Colonel Dawid Malan, who in 1788 fell in love with his slave girl Sara. They were shunned. After eloping with her, Malan proceeded to introduce Sara as his wife.
In being in his arms?
That’s home. No matter where that may be, Van Heerden focuses on the debates and dialogues around the land-grabbing issue pre, during, and post-apartheid. In addition, the work delves into current racial-traditional views on identity and sexuality; and the parallels between the Xhosa and Afrikaner traditions.
“For me, home is in another person’s eyes, in his being,” Van Heerden says.
“Basing the work on the story of Malan, I tried to keep the focus on the fact that there is a minority of young people who truly and utterly live past the racial lines. A group of people to whom race, sexuality, religion and tribal cultures are mere guidelines to live more informed lives, and not rules they have to follow.”
Van Heerden says that the dance culture in South Africa has always been one of tackling political issues head on, mostly hammering on the negative. He is hoping to emphasise self-reflection as a country and as individuals, rather than blaming the past.
Radebe, Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Dance 2017, offers distilling a crimson fracture, a collaborative venture using the views and experiences of the students as the point of departure for the narrative of her piece.
Two student choreographers are included in the programme.
Mestre’s Foster the People touches on the subject of foster homes in South Africa, while Van Heerden’s Homeless explores the constant power struggle between and within specific groups and hierarchies.
April, curator of the Dance Programme for the National Arts Festival (NAF) as well as the Creative Entrepreneurial Officer of David April Arts Consultancy, is excited about the two young female choreographers being provided with a platform on which they can express their views with their unique choreographic approaches, and become involved in important social discourse.
Home will be performed at The Dance Factory in Newtown from June 21 to 23. Tickets can be bought at the door.