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The Dance Umbrella is again bringing new works to the stage from local and international choreographers, as well as some time-tested pieces.
DANCE Umbrella celebrates its 24th anniversary this year, with choreographers returning to South Africa after living and working abroad to show what they have been doing.

Robin Orlin's Daddy, I've seen this place Robin Orlin's Daddy, I've seen this piece... Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe, Desire Davids, Melody Putu, Moya Michael and Moeketsi Koena have all reserved their places in the jam-packed programme, which features a festival of contemporary dance, performance art, Afro-fusion, dance film and video, and workshops.

Speaking about what is in store for this year, David April, the Dance Umbrella project manager, says it “promises to an exciting programme”.

Over 15 days, from 17 February to 4 March, productions will be staged at venues across Joburg, ranging from the Market Theatre complex to the Wits Theatre, the Dance Factory, the Goodman Space at Arts on Main, and the old JSE Building on Diagonal Street.

The main programme opens on Friday, 17 February at the Goodman Space, with Uncles & Angels by Nelisiwe Xaba and Mocke J van Veuren. It is an interactive dance and video performance piece that looks at the annual Reed Dance that takes place in rural KwaZulu-Natal and the role it plays in the lives of young Zulu girls.

Performances are on 17, 18 and 19 February at 6pm. Uncles & Angels is presented in partnership with the Goodman Gallery.

Market Theatre
Also opening on 17 February, over at the Market Theatre, is Exit/Exist by Gregory Vuyani Maqoma. This work looks at the process of existing today, while reflecting on the significance of the role the renowned chief of the Xhosa nation, Maqoma, played in the transformation of South Africa. Performances also take place on 18 February at 8.30pm and on 19 February at 3pm.

Nelisiwe XabaNelisiwe Xaba presents Uncles and AngelsCapetonian choreographer Jay Pather presents Qaphela Caesar! at the old Diagonal Street stock exchange building. It is a mixed media work based on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and looks at personal and political betrayal within the momentum of change.

The performances are on 18 and 19 February at 6pm.

Stepping Stones also takes place on 18 and 19 February, featuring over 30 works each day from community groups and young choreographers. This start at 10am at the Wits Theatre in Braamfontein. Entrance to this mixed bill is free.

On 21 and 22 February, a programme of four works is presented at the Dance Factory, from 7pm. Gates of Hell by Fana Tshabalala, who recently returned from a two-month residency in France; uncle stans jane and john doe by Mari-Louise Basson, which looks at the effects of sexual abuse on children; Imbokodo by Mdu Mtshali, which looks at how Aids has affected the lives of many; and Ivan Teme’s Unknown, a curious and amusing look at communication and how easily people can misunderstand each other, make up the bill.

Alfred Hinkel’s new work, called Dansmetdieduiwels, is the story of a young man from Northern Cape who had an affinity for working with young people. But his intentions were misunderstood and ultimately caused tragedy. His assistant choreographer is John Linden. Performances are on 21, 22 and 23 February at the Market Theatre, at 7.30pm. This show is not for people under the age of 16.

Who is this beneath my skin by Desi DavidsWho is this beneath my skin by Desi DavidsRobyn Orlin brings back her internationally renowned work daddy, I’ve seen this piece six times before, and I still don’t know why they’re hurting each other to the Laager Theatre at the Market Theatre on 22, 23 and 24 February at 9pm. Since premiering at Dance Umbrella in 1999, this piece has toured to several international platforms.

PJ Sabbagha presents a multimedia dance piece called One Night Stand. It is a provocative exploration of the many ways people are “infected” – the pervasive invasion of things, thoughts and actions that infect people physically, emotionally and mentally.

This is on at the Wits Theatre on 23 and 24 February at 7pm and has an age restriction of no under-16.

Next up is a Mixed Bill featuring Athena Mazarakis, from Joburg, and Hansel Nezza, from Barcelona and Berlin, with a work called Inter.Fear, among others.

They have collaborated to create an innovative theatrical experience that explores fear as “interference” which mediates human encounters and relationships. The material for the work has been sourced and researched across three cities: Barcelona, Berlin and Johannesburg.

This work is presented in collaboration with the Goethe Institut and the Spanish Embassy Mzanzi Cultura.

The second work, Cellardoor by Alan Parker, discovers and uncovers the sensation caused by beauty and the third work, Canvas, by Louise Coetzer, is a collaboration with graffiti artist Imraan from Cape Town.

Boyzie Cekwana gives a sneak preview of his new work, a thinking out loud experiment, at the start of the Mixed Bill, which is at the Dance Factory on 24 and 25 February at 8pm.

Michael MoyaMichael Moya - Out of this body for a little whileWorking with Moving into Dance Mophatong, Mark Hawkins presents a new work entitled Dirty Laundry. In it, he takes a humorous look at how “dirty laundry” can affect people’s lives via gossip columns: the dirtier your past secrets are, the more famous you become.

This is at the Market Theatre on 25 February at 3pm and 8pm and on 26 February at 3pm.

Dance Factory
WHO IS THIS? … Beneath my Skin by Desiré Davids is a multimedia work that searches for self and fights against confinement. It interrogates the unpacking of oneself and looks at “who you really are”. This programme is at the Dance Factory on 27 and 28 February at 8pm.

A double bill follows, featuring work from Sifiso Kweyama and Moeketsi Koena at the Laager Theatre at the Market on 28 and 29 February at 7pm.

Kweyama stages The More…, which reflects on how the more we change, the more we stay the same; and Koena presents Just We, which looks at people who come from different cultural backgrounds and how they can break down any barriers.

Melody Putu, the former lead dancer at PACT Dance Company, returns to South Africa with a work he created in his new homeland, Sweden, called Faith. This production, performed by dancers from South Africa and Sweden, is about how a young girl fights for her rights. Part of the interrogation is the difficulty inherent in adjusting to change.

Exit Exist by Gregory MaqomaExit/Exist by Gregory MaqomaThis is performed at the Market Theatre on 28, 29 February and 1 March at 8.30pm.

Young choreographer Kieron Jina presents a work called Homodryer at the Laager Theatre on 29 February and 1 March at 9pm. Jina looks at how societal pressure can cause people to hide their HIV/Aids status, resulting in disaster.

Moya Michael, the dancer and choreographer, left to study at PARTS in Brussels in the early 1990s. She returns to South Africa with a new commissioned work called Out of this Body … for a Little While.

With this work she reflects on belonging and how living and moving affects one’s life and circumstances. This is on at the Dance Factory on 1 and 2 March at 7pm and is presented in partnership with the Embassy of Belgium, Delegation of the Flemish Government.

Dada Masilo returns to Dance Umbrella with Death and the Maidens at the Dance Factory on 3 March at 7pm and 4 March at 2pm. Masilo looks at tragic heroines with this work, where she again fuses existing dance techniques and works with a company of woman including members of Tshwane Dance Theatre. This production is restricted to no under 16s.

Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe premiers his new work, Opera for Fools, on 3 March at 3pm and 8.30pm and on 4 March at 3pm.
This work depicts the shebeen lifestyle that was lived in Joburg’s townships in the 1970s and 1980s. It takes place in Soweto, Sophiatown and Alexandra, showing how people coped with life in those days.

Mark Hawkins - Dirty LaundryMark Hawkins - Dirty LaundryDance Umbrella 2012’s final programme is a solo work from Nhlanhla Mahlangu called Chant, which honours women as well as looks at how the world today does not adequately help the human race develop spiritually.

Funded by the Goethe Institut Johannesburg, it is presented at Goethe on Main on 3 and 4 March at 7pm.

Apart from the main dance programme, Dance Umbrella along with the Goethe-Institut of South Africa, hosts a Dance Writers’ Workshop facilitated by Mary Corrigall, the senior feature writer and arts critic on The Sunday Independent, working with six selected participants.

The intensive three-day workshop looks at reviewing, interviewing and writing generally about contemporary dance, with the focus on Dance Umbrella 2012.

Also taking place during the festival is the Young Choreographers’ Residency programme, from 22 February to 3 March, funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and facilitated by Alfred Hinkel, as well as a series of face-to-face discussions, after some performances at various venues, facilitated by Adrienne Sichel, the dance critic and writer.

Tickets for Dance Umbrella shows cost between R60 and R100. Bookings for performances at the Wits Theatre, Market Theatre and the Dance Factory can be made at Computicket. Bookings for performances at the Goodman Space at Arts on Main and the old stock exchange can be made by calling 011 492 2033.

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