Understanding the need for alternative platforms of experimentation and expression, and investigating exciting avenues in movement composition is what the Detours festival, launching today at Wits, is all about.

The programme explores a variety of forms and ranges from solo, ensemble to collaborative work in an attempt to inspire a re-visioning of the body in performance.

It reflects varying movement philosophies, and its curators, movement practitioners and university lecturers Joni Barnard and Jane Crewe, are themselves innovative thinkers and creative performers.

The idea for a festival that focuses specifically on the work of young choreographers and students comes from the Small Stakes festival produced in 2008 by Crewe, where works by four young choreographers, Crewe among them, were presented.

“In 2008 I had an idea for a piece, I applied for funding and it was granted,” Crewe says.

“I rented space, but then decided to share the space with other people and make the money go further. It became an opportunity for people and choreographers to share a networking environment. This brought choreographers together and it gave them experience, exposure and support.

“Audiences also got to see different views of what movement composition can be about.”

The festival’s main aim is to create exposure for the students’ work. It focuses on composition and performance, creative education, as well as arts management – and the performing arts management students are managing projects at the festival.

It is about providing a platform for young choreographers to present experimental, innovative work, as well as a space for dialogue between students, young choreographers and the audience.

There will be workshops allowing for the exchange of skills and inspiration of ideas, and an opportunity for students, young professionals and professionals to come together.

A panel of experienced creators and performers – including Barnard, Gerard Bester, Crewe, Jenni-lee Crewe and Standard Bank Young Artist 2011 for Dance Bailey Snyman – was invited to choose the works to be presented at the fest.

lMay 9 – 12, 6pm to 8.15pm: Joni Barnard (with Wits students), Freddie Zwane, Mmakgosi Khabi, Gina Holloway Mulder.

lMay 16 – 19, 6pm to 9pm: Nondumisa Msimanga, Kyle de Boer (with UP students), Kwanele Thusi, Thalia Laric, Naomi van Niekerk.

lMay 23 – 26, 5.30pm to 9pm: Wits Physical Theatre III (facilitated by Bailey Snyman), Wits Physical Theatre IV (facilitated by visiting scholar Professor Esther Haeusler), Nicholas Aphane and Thami Majela.

The line-up also features interactive performances by The Brother Moves On and Siya Mthembu on Friday, May 11 and 18.

Workshops are being run over weekends by Kieron Jina, Mulder, Haeusler, Barnard and De Boer, and Aphane.

Tickets cost R10. The programme may be downloaded at http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/162435967212894.

• Detours: Re-routing Movement Composition runs at the Wits School of Arts / Dramatic Arts at the Wits Downstairs Theatre, the Amphitheatre and the Nunnery on May 8-26.