Contemporary dance work No Air. Pictures: Elani Dekker

Pretoria and Johannesburg dance lovers will soon be treated to truly exhilarating dance theatre when a never-say-die stalwart of local contemporary dance, Kelsey Middleton, returns to the stage with Kmad Dance Company’s production of No Air.

At a time when financial constraints are more evident than ever and when funding is almost impossible to come by, it is indeed a delight when a top notch contemporary dance work is produced.

For the past 20 years, Middleton has consistently and successfully produced and choreographed contemporary dance productions, notwithstanding the dire challenges faced by professional dance companies. This she ascribes to sheer determination and an abundance in passion.

No Air premiered at the National Arts Festival in 2014 and received pronounced critical acclaim, being described as “mesmerising, technically excellent and astounding” (Cue 2014). It received a Standard Bank Ovation Award.

No Air explores the many premonitions suggesting how the world would end. It tackles told conspiracies and myths surrounding premonitions, dealing with issues such as drought, plagues, the new world order, foreign species arriving to take over the world, accelerating wars and the depletion of religious ethics.

Upon the opportunity to sit in on rehearsals, one is struck by the ingenuity of choreographers Thami Tshabalala and Phume Sikhakhane.

They manage to merge visceral expression with a dance vocabulary that requires sound technical proficiency.

The troupe of dancers, Khaya Ndlovu (as Mother Earth), Xola Willie, Tshabalala, Kristof Skhosana, Steven Mokone, Mohlalefe Mokete, Sibonelo Mchunu and Thamsanqa Mosoka, were hand-picked.

Tshabalala says that these dancers were selected on the strength of their classical and contemporary technical prowess, their athleticism, their being attentive to the idiosyncratic detail of the choreography, and the personality that they bring to the work.

The sombre theme is poignantly expressed in a series of contrasting variations.

Tshabalala poetically paraphrases these premonitions as, “The few left undead crawling on the burning sands, rivers dry, oceans gone”, “The plague grazing repugnantly on the flesh, rasping away the soul as if that day your body decides to rot”, “The sun will be darkened and the moon won’t give its light.

The stars will fall from the heavens for the powers of the heavens will be shaking”, and “Deep in the universe are living so many men and women, they are our pulse and maybe one day our future”.

This thought-provoking work can be seen at The Reddford House in Pretoria on August 24 and 25 and on August 31 at Dance Factory in Johannesburg. Bookings can be made at 083 631 0106. Tickets will also be available at the door.