Mode finds humour and aesthetic inspiration in the formal elements of social dances – from the processional rigidity of court dances, to the frivolity of the salsa. Mode is a dance about dancing, a half-forgotten recollection of dancing in church halls and ballrooms. Rhythms of first waltzes intertwine with ballet lessons, hip-hop classes and aerobics routines: ghost memories clouding over one another. An imaginary folk-dance for a people who never existed, Mode is an echo of memories both futuristic and nostalgic, a postcard from a fictional place.
Mode was first commissioned in 2014 by the Baxter Dance Festival. In 2015 it was paired with Cipher to form the double-bill LoveZero which was created for the National Arts Festival’s 2015 Arena programme.
With a classical movement vocabulary as its starting point, room explores the spaces between bodies and the room that defines their interaction. As an ‘algorithm’, room functions through a fixed list of well-defined instructions and expects definitive actions. Unlike the cold delineated space that this movement study inhabits, the warm bodies that actualise it question the nature of absolute conclusions. room was part of the production PLASTIC which was awarded a 2013 Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival.
Choreographed by Kristina Johnstone
Directed by Daniel Morcos
Once a luxurious tapestry, now a threadbare heirloom, this cherished portrait has often been restored. Weather-beaten and refurbished, treasured then forgotten, Skoonveld is this tapestry – a living still-life, a Voortrekker idyll, a pastoral landscape that paints and repaints the past. Skoonveld was part of the production PLASTIC which was awarded a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival 2013. In addition, Skoonveld received a 2013 Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award and the 2014 Kyknet Fiesta Award for Best Dance or Physical Theatre Production.
Eyes closed with chair and radio is a solo improvisation performance based on the notion of ‘listening’. Through attention to kinaesthetic awareness, spontaneous movement is discovered as a response to sensation while a live radio broadcast layers chance meaning through a coincidence of audio and visual signifiers. Eyes closed with chair and radio was part of the production Keepsake Minus 3, produced by Underground Dance Theatre and Nicola Elliott. The Production was awarded a 2012 Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival and received the Kyknet Fiesta Award for Best Dance Production in 2013.
Keepsake, in its theme and simplicity of style, is inspired by William Carlos Williams’ poem entitled “This is just to say”. Rachmaninov’s rich turbulent music inspires its understated emotional depth. Keepsake was part of the production Keepsake Minus 3, produced by Underground Dance Theatre and Nicola Elliott. The Production was awarded a 2012 Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival and received the Kyknet Fiesta Award for Best Dance Production in 2013.
Choreographed and performed by Kristina Johnstone, Cilna Katzke and Steven van Wyk
You were meant for me marries contemporary dance and dance theatre to explore ideas of human connection and disconnection. The work uses its heightened theatricality and humour to suggest the trappings, illusions and contradictions of modern media and human interaction. You were meant for me was part of the production Keepsake Minus 3, produced by Underground Dance Theatre and Nicola Elliott. The Production was awarded a 2012 Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival and received the Kyknet Fiesta Award for Best Dance Production in 2013.
In Alter, choreographer Ilona Frege and dancers of Underground Dance Theatre revisit Gregory Maqoma’s Beautiful Me by embarking on a process of unpacking the construction of their identities – as African? As South African? As performing South African identity? Moving bodies perform. Identities shift and re-form. History is remixed. The body is altered. Identity is lost and found. Alter was created for the 2012 African Theatre Association International Conference titled Querying Africa: Dis-ease, Metamorphosis and Unconventionality in African Theatre and Performance which was held at the UCT Hiddingh Campus.
Choreographed and Performed by Kristina Johnstone, Jamila Rodriguez and Steven van Wyk
Fractography: The untold story of Napoleon and Jospehine subverts the traditional love story of Napoleon Bonaparte and his lover and wife Josephine de Beauharnais, using these figures as archetypes of male-female relationships. Drawing from the many inevitable lacunas of history, we re-write Napoleon and Josephine’s ‘break-up story’ to comment on the complexities of human relationships. Fractography appropriates the ‘story’ in order to re-image and re-imagine the characters and the narrative to layer both with the complexity and nuance of contemporary concerns surrounding gender, sex, sexuality, power and desire. Recognising that every person experiences ‘fracture’, ‘rupture’ or ‘break-down’ in some form, the work Fractography becomes a place of confrontation, vulnerability and exposure. Underground Dance Theatre was awarded a Creative Arts Award by the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) for the creation of Fractography, which was performed at the Arena Theatre on the University of Cape Town’s Hiddingh Campus, at the Emerging Modernities Conference, also on the Hiddingh Campus, at the UCT School of Dance Confluences 6, and at the Baxter Dance Festival 2011.
Underground Dance Theatre envisaged, designed, produced and managed this large-scale event to launch a new dance film created by Gerard Samuel for GIPCA, as well as refresh the public imagination around what the UCT School of Dance stands for. The film focused on South Africans’ notion of tea – so UDT used tea as the central motif for the event, which became a South Africanised mad hatter’s tea party. A giant inflatable tunnel led attendees into the dance school grounds, suggesting a rabbit hole to wonderland, and allowing one to see the dance department in a new light. Cross-dressing mad hatters and queens of tarts invited guests to sample South African snacks – koeksisters, lamingtons and rusks – to accompany the tea on offer. Comfortable seating areas allowed guests to relax, while décor touches such as chairs dangling from fairy-light-bedecked trees added to the wonderland feel. Dance department students performed installations in office windows and under staircases, delighting the audience.