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New dance piece 'Nne' interrogates issues of Koma

Academy for the Less Good Idea’s first dance mentorship dancers. Picture: Zivanai Matangi

Academy for the Less Good Idea’s first dance mentorship dancers. Picture: Zivanai Matangi

Published Apr 8, 2022

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Teresa Phuti Mojela is celebrating a huge milestone in her career as a mentor with a moving dance piece titled “Nne”, set to be showcased at the Centre Less Good Idea, on Friday, April 8.

“Nne” is the performance outcome of the SO The Academy for the Less Good Idea's first dance mentorship programme helmed by renowned choreographer, performer and dance teacher, Teresa Phuti Mojela.

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The production emerges out of an eight-week intensive dance mentorship programme for six young women dancers.

Coming into the programme from a range of dance disciplines, the dancers were mentored across key aspects of professional dance practice such as technical training, choreographic skills, administration, marketing and performance.

The programme was initiated in 2019 but had to be paused four weeks into the process due to lockdown restrictions.

The second half of the mentorship resumed in March this year.

Academy for the Less Good Idea’s first dance mentorship dancers. Picture: Zivanai Matangi

Working closely with four professional musicians, Mojela has re-imagined the original version of “Nne” drawing on the strengths, qualities, and experiences of the six dancers.

Together they have interrogated the complexities of being a young woman in South Africa.

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The dance work is a celebration of Koma (initiation), not as a practice of a specific culture but as a collective cultural practice for young women coming of age.

“Nne” grapples with issues of identity, spirituality and cultural belonging, with the challenges of secrecy around traditional practices.

“The original piece was really celebrating but also questioning and interrogating contemporary woman’s relationship to initiation processes.

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“And so this interesting kind of dual mirroring going on between the mentorship and the work that they use as a case study. So this group of six young dancers have used the work ’Nne’ as a case study to develop their performance skills.

“But in the process, they're also questioning and interrogating what initiation is and how they connect to it and how it resonates with them,” comments Athena Mazarakis, Momenteur – SO The Academy for the Less Good Idea's.

Academy for the Less Good Idea’s first dance mentorship dancers. Picture: Zivanai Matangi

Mojela sees the mentorship and the initiation process explored in Nne as a mirror process.

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Through each, the young women are able to develop and come to a deeper understanding of self.

“When she (Mojela) was in the process of staging Nne, she was looking for female performers, and she couldn’t find that many independent women performers and so her intention to develop the skills of young and emerging performers.

“These are all performers that she has encountered in different spaces through her freelance career as a dance teacher, educator, and choreographer.

“So it was a very carefully curated process of selection of the six dancers.

“And she wanted to create an incubator space for these young women so that when they come out of the mentorship, not only having performed a work but with real skills – real skills on how to manage themselves artists, real skills of how to create real skills and how to market themselves.”

The piece is both a vehicle for the development of dance artists and an opportunity to re-imagine traditional initiation practices.

It is a process of becoming and a space for asking questions that are often shrouded in secrecy.

“The show runs for about and what’s exciting about it is that Teresa has worked with four professional musicians, and the music has been developed alongside the work, the dance itself, so they're very integrated.

And what's really exciting is that it's an all-women cast; four women musicians and six women dancers.

“And what the audiences can expect is an interesting blend and interrogation, of initiation practices; there’s quite a strongly leaning into the ritualised initiation practice itself.

“There are also moments of questioning and interrogation that comes out through sort of the contemporary dance register in the work.

“Teresa is experimenting in a really interesting way between the contemporary and traditional, between culture and what is kind of very contemporary for us.

“So I think they can, they can expect a very kind of interesting and engaging and evocative work of song and dance that takes us on a journey in the same way that the performers or going on a journey of initiation.”

Bookings are available online at lessgoodidea.com. Tickets are priced at R100.

Related Topics:

Theatre

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