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Cape Dance Company season was spellbinding

Fiona Gordon: Debbie Turner’s Cape Dance Company celebrated 15 years of existence in a season to top all others at the Artscape Theatre.

Dancers appear to be more comfortable than previously with the sometimes bizarre movement required of them in ‘Allesverloren…Alles Niet Verloren’ (Carlos dos Santos) which makes another appearance, although it is really a different piece when seen with a white surround on a full-sized stage. In what would be an excellent choice of ‘competition solo’, Guest Artist Sean Aaron Carmon mesmerises, with humour, as he shows off his lines to Nina Simone’s ‘I Put a Spell on You’. In ‘Waiting for the Rain’, dancers of the company prove their mettle as they take a different approach to movement, true to the style of South Africa’s master of dance theatre Alfred Hinkle, and further demonstrate their versatility with a foray into the dramatic, with the talented Michelle Reid’s quirky ‘Us Travellers’.

Another guest artist, Kayoko Amemiya, appears in a shapeless sage calf-length dress, which covers most of her body, except when she moves revealing exquisite lines, despite never leaving her chair. Under choreographic direction from Mr Huggins, she explores the ‘Essence’ of movement with superb articulation of every part of her body.

The programme makes few references to historical works, but perhaps this speaks to the extent to which current works are based on the strengths and capabilities of current dancers and trends. Despite the relatively limited repertoire smaller companies tend to have, it is a welcome change to see a well-considered repetition of previous pieces, in a very well balanced programme.

Every ‘old’ piece saw a display of what appeared to be a renewed energy and chemistry, resulting in a thrilling set of performances – most obviously so from Ipeleng Merafe and James Bradley in Esther Nasser’s staging of Redha’s ‘On the Wings of Sue’.

However, it is in their newest work that one sees the greatest tribute to the hard work and tenacity of this company, as American choreographer Christopher L. Huggins mounts his piece ‘Enemy Behind the Gates’ on them. With strong references to the aesthetic of ‘Lord of the Dance’, unison, with remarkable precision, is the mainstay of this piece with explosions of colour (from underside of the girls’ skirts) and energy against an otherwise black surround, bringing into relief the sharp movement and the strength required for such held positions. With conscious focus on the movement and cohesion of the larger group, and groups within that, the tension created is electric, and the company which holds this all together is well-deserving of their standing ovation.

With some of the ‘more seasoned’ members making a return to the stage under this banner, for this season, and some newer dancers starting to feature as they work their way through the ranks, there is a lovely mix of performance experience, although very little of it shows, as the holding of a very tight production reign is evident.

Definitely a celebratory season for this company – with one of their most well-programmed seasons, and one of their most spectacular performance pieces, to date – it is certainly a celebration of a remarkable 15 years, and bodes well for exciting things to come.

This season ended on 4 December 2010 at the Artscape Theatre, in conjunction with their Musical Theatre production, ‘Crazy Little Thing’.

Confirmed forthcoming performances include seasons at the Masque Theatre in June 2011, and Dance Factory in October 2011.

Fiona Gordon

Cape Dance Company 15th Anniversary Season

The outstanding  Cape Dance Company (CDC) celebrates its 15th year with a diverse anniversary  season at the Artscape Theatre from 24th November to 4th December 2010.

This season will premier several new works, beginning with the award-winning Enemy Behind The Gates by the choreographer, dancer and teacher Christopher Huggins from the USA. A  contemporary classical ballet that was first performed in 2001 by Philadanco! in Philadelphia, this is an exciting, confrontational work created in a militaristic style, with provocative, haunting images and striking costumes. Huggins’ training includes the Juilliard School in Manhatten and the State University of New York at Purchase,  and he was a fellowship student at The Ailey School before becoming a member of the  Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Since then he has  enjoyed an illustrious career as a freelance artist working in America and around the  world.

Sean Carmon, 22, joins the CDC as a guest artist this season, dancing a solo especially created for him by Huggins, set to I Put A Spell On You by Nina Simone. Carmon, also from the USA, recently graduated from the Ailey School’s BFA programme and is a freelance artist with various dance companies and currently performing On Broadway in La Cage Aux Folles.  CDC dancers performing in this  season include Tracey Aaron, James Bradley,  Sarah-Lee Chapman, Mila De Biaggi, Alice Godfrey, Carmen Lotz, Cara-May Marcus, Ipeleng Merafe, Henk Opperman & Natalie Walsh.  Kayoko Amemiya, Huggins’ assistant, will perform a piece at the opening night gala on 24th November, further adding to the prestige of the event.

Other new works that will be showcased include Michelle Reid’s Us Travellers and Waiting For The Rain by Alfred  Hinkel,  formerly the Artistic Director and Founder of Jazzart Dance Theatre.  Hinkel’s work is set to traditional music and based on an Afrikaans poem by Dawn Langdown. Also in this season is Allesverloren, by the Brazilian /  American choreographer Carlos Dos Santos and extracts from the 1999 cult  classic On The Wings Of Sue, by French  choreographer Redha and re-staged for the CDC by Esther Nasser.

The Cape Dance Company was founded in 1995 by Debbie Turner and is based in Westlake,  Cape Town.  Turner is the Artistic Director of both the CDC and the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA) and her name has become  synonymous with exceptional, polished productions danced by  well-trained and highly disciplined artists, many of whom are CAPA graduates. The CDC performs a repertoire of neo-classical and neo-contemporary works with technical aplomb,  athleticism and grace.  The company performs regularly in local theatres and has travelled extensively overseas, presenting seasons at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theatre in New York City and at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland.

An additional production in this celebratory season is Crazy little Thing, a musical theatre piece performed by the students of the Cape Academy of  Performing Arts (CAPA), the feeder school to the CDC. This thought-provoking work explores the joys, hardships, exhilaration, and rejection of teen romance. It has been  devised and directed by Anton Luitingh and Duane Alexander, particularly well known for their lead roles in Rent, Beauty and the  Beast and many other top productions seen in SA and abroad. Crazy Little Thing takes place on various nights between the 27th November and 4th December and tickets cost from R95 to R110.

The Cape Dance Company season opens with the gala performance on 24th November at 8.15pm. Tickets cost R150 and include a cocktail party after the show. Performances thereafter run nightly from Wednesday to Sunday at 8.15pm and tickets cost R100 to R120.  Discounts of 10% are available for block bookings of 10 or more. Senior Citizens and Students with valid identification are eligible for a 50% discount on tickets purchased 30 minutes before the start of all shows excluding opening night. All booking is via Computicket or Artscape dial-a-seat  0214217695.

This season has been made possible with support from BASA (Business and Arts South  Africa), Fruit and Veg City and Lorenzo & Stella Chiappini Charitable Trust.

Cape Dance Company to perform at the Masque Theatre

For its second season at the Masque Theatre, the Cape Dance Company (CDC), proudly celebrating its 15th year, will present a programme of new works by acclaimed South African & International choreographers, namely Gregory Maqoma, Mamela Nyamza and Carlos dos Santos, to name a few.  The eclectic style of the choreographies showcases the technical excellence and artistry of this athletic and cutting edge dance company.

Allesverloren…Alles Niet Verloren, (All Is Lost, All Is Not Lost) is a new work created by Carlos dos Santos, a world renowned Brazilian/American choreographer and master teacher. For this piece, dos Santos was inspired by current world events – disasters, tremors, volcanoes and wars. He says, “people think they are alone, and people think alone. We live in an individualistic, materialistic, insanely competitive world, one that prays at the altar of celebrity, perfection, possession & financial reward”. Dos Santos is an artist who conveys his ideas through dance as his chosen form of expression and it is one of the ways to express his attitudes to the world and how we can save it. “If we remove ourselves from our comfort zone and concern ourselves with the continued life of our planet, all will then not be lost.” Like Water…. , also by dos Santos, is a contemporary classical quartet that suggests the ebb and flow of constantly moving water as a metaphor for the constantly changing and evolving life of an artist. This engaging work showcases the technical virtuosity and strength of the ladies of the CDC.

In addition, the performance includes Kitty Phetla’s quirky Soukora (At Night!), which has a light and playful, flirtatious quality suggesting a dance of fire-flies in the African night. Gregory Maqoma’s pulsing, organic work, Molo Wethu, has an earthy Euro-African style with undulating torso movements and a distinctive energetic quality of dance, a trademark of this well-loved dance company. Gladius (Sword), originally created as a solo, has been extended into a full work by Debbie Turner, the Artistic Director of the CDC and the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA), one of the City’s top training institutions established by Turner 25 years ago.  Gladius explores the life of the gladiator who ultimately has to look death in the eye and it incorporates edgy, staccato movement coupled with a powerful electronic score keeps the audience riveted with subliminal feelings of anxiety, fear and ultimately, resignation.

The Cape Dance Company performances run at the Masque Theatre on 15,16,17 June at 7:30pm, 18 June at 6pm and 19 June at 3pm.  Tickets cost from R45 to R80 with special offers for Masque Theatre members and all bookings via the Masque on 021 788 1898.