CriticalDance Forum

Dance Umbrella 2009
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Author:  David [ Mon Oct 19, 2009 5:05 am ]
Post subject:  Dance Umbrella 2009

If We Go On
Vincent Dance Theatre
The Place, London; October 17, 2009

“No more dancing.” Those are the words that open and close Charlotte Vincent’s “If We Go On.” Spurred on by Aurora Lubos, seemingly the more militant of the two, Patrycja Kujawska adds some specifics: “No more partner work…no more emotion…no more classical music - especially Bach…no more internal rhythms…no more seduction…no more success…no more clichés…”

It is an anti-dance, or at least anti-dance conventions, manifesto that attacks pretty much everything associated with the art form and the expectations of audiences. And even if it leaves you wondering what the point is if all these things are removed, it is rather amusing. Or at least it is until the increasingly loud speech turns to ear-piercing shrieking and the punk rock music becomes far too loud, both totally unnecessary. It does though set the tone for what is a rather unconventional piece of performance art, although whether it is dance, or even dance theatre, is questionable.

It turns into a strong and mostly powerful show that continues to centre around Wendy Houston’s quite texts, most frequently delivered as a disjointed, almost deadpan monologue. These are illuminated by Alex Catona’s live music, movement, and yes, even occasionally dance - including some of the things we were previously told would not happen.

For a while you start to wonder where it is all going, but the performers slowly draw you in as they try to make sense of their situation, feelings and worries. As they question their existence there is a feeling of them desperately wanting to hang on as everything around them seems to fall apart. Although they never evoke empathy, the characters, their circumstance, inner turmoil and dilemmas increasingly hold the interest as dark humour, fear and worry come to the surface.

The cast crash and stumble around the stage, getting ever closer it seems to the point where they cannot go on. On the way are some empty spaces in the piece, pauses when the performers, and it seems time, stand still and nothing happens. These moments of stillness and silence are as important as those full of text, music or movement, and are hugely effective. Eventually, their anger and frustration culminates in the set, some sort of rehearsal room that even at the beginning looked messy, being destroyed as papers are thrown about, chairs tossed around and music stands knocked over.

It ends with a harmonised song that includes the words “Look at us. What are we doing here” and “Who let us loose on the stage?” So, no answers. Vincent says that she wanted to produce something “that offers an alternative aesthetic to the work currently celebrated as dance theatre in the UK.” Whether she has really done so rather depends on the individual perspective of where dance theatre boundaries lie. But whatever your view, the occasionally dark, occasionally humorous “If We Go On” is certainly an engaging piece of theatre, performed by a talented ensemble.

A version of this review with photographs will appear later in the magazine.

"If We Go On" continues on tour to Exeter, Malvern, Brighton, Aberdeen, Hull, Sheffield, Aberystwyth and Bath. In April/May 2010 it can be seen at Montclair State University, NJ. For full details and other UK, US and Canada dates and programmes see

Author:  David [ Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:36 am ]
Post subject:  Kettly Noël and Nelisiwe Xaba

Kettly Noël and Nelisiwe Xaba
The Place, London; October 19, 2009

Through text and dance “Correspondences” is a lively, frequently witty, sometimes intimate look at the friendship of two women reunited after a long time during which they only corresponded. As Haiti-born Kettly Noël and South African Nelisiwe Xaba, explore their friendship, they tell stories, exchange opinions, fight and laugh. We see the initial awkwardness of being in the same space, and maybe even a certain amount of jealousy, develop into deep friendship. Their conversations and observations are sometimes funny, but always revealing; and they move as passionately as they speak.

The couple introduce themselves through two monologues that seem to have more than a hint of autobiography about them. Xaba focuses on the everyday task of getting ready for work. But she makes it sound far from mundane. As she stretches, twists and turns her leggy frame we learn much about her bathroom and its many mirrors, and the shoe and hat collection in her closet. Noel is more exuberant, arriving from the back of the auditorium with a battered suitcase, perhaps an autobiographical touch reflecting her journeys and time spent in Benin, Mali and France. Having hugged and kissed several members of the audience if they were friends, a sizeable part of her text centred on money. In a political reference again drawing on her experiences, she said, “In Africa I am a queen. With money in Africa, I can buy anything and everything. I can buy a country, I can buy a continent, I can buy boys, I can buy girls… With money in Africa, I am a queen!”

Several scenes follow, the best and most amusing of which is one that features Xaba, lying under a large table, giving instructions in the form of ballet steps or positions to Noel, on the table. Having been prompted by one to remove her underwear, on ‘jeté’ she dropped them on the table, and on ‘grand jeté’ threw them at the front row, who had worked out what was coming. “Try harder”, yelled Xaba, “you’re not doing RAD you know!”

Finally, having really got to know each other, and now clad only in leotards, they shower together in milk, which arrives in surgical gloves from above. Now fully relaxed in each others’ company, they play, sliding around the floor as the music gets ever louder, and their opening texts scroll across the floor and back wall.

If there is a weakness in “Correspondences” it is the lack of connection between some scenes. Not until the end, when the barriers are finally down and the couple play exuberantly does the work make sense. What really made the evening was not so much the choreography or dramaturgy, but the engaging personalities of the two performers, their natural approach, and the very evident chemistry between them. They really did seem like two friends.

A version of this review with photographs will appear subsequently in the magazine.

Author:  David [ Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:59 am ]
Post subject:  Mark Morris Dance Group

Mark Morris Dance Group

Although their London performances are part of Dance Umbrella, MMDG are also touring througout the UK.

For a review of the programme in Northampton (Italian Concerto, Going Away Party, Three Preludes, Grand Duo), some of which will be performed at Sadler's Wells, see ... 280#199280

Author:  David [ Sun Oct 25, 2009 3:48 am ]
Post subject:  Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company

Faultline, Bruise Blood
Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London; October 22, 2009

Shobana Jeyasingh’s return to Dance Umbrella featured two works that highlight her trademark fusion of contemporary dance and Indian themes and influences. Although both pieces have non-white men in trouble as their starting point, they are likely to connect with teenagers whatever their background. Having said that, those themes are not over-emphasised and you never feel she is making a political statement.

The evening opened with the much admired “Faultline”, now a set work to be studied for GCSE Dance, a fact doubtless responsible for the large number of young people in the audience, something to be celebrated whatever the reason.

The work reflects the tensions and contradictions of Asian youth, particularly men, in the UK today. The street scenes and close ups in an opening video are immediately reflected in a dance for three men, and give instantly a sense of time and place. Although their gesture and demeanour suggests shared experiences and even friendship, there is always a sense of competition between them. When the women appear the men seem to become even more macho, even more trying to outdo each other. Some of the male-female confrontations and dance becomes almost violent. It seems like the whole thing could explode at any moment.

Jeyasingh’s frequently stylised, fast, energetic choreography is just like the world it depicts, full of Western and Asian flavours, and completely mesmerising. Within it she adds clever touches that emphasise the everyday and the real person, such as the men smoothing the hair back, straightening the tie, or brushing one’s shirt. She weaves her dancers in highly complex ways with ever changing duets and trios. It is edgy and always tension-filled. Some of the male-female duets are almost violent. It frequently seems as if the men in particular are but one step away from exploding. Yet there are sensitive moments too, as when one of the men rests his head on one of the girl’s arms.

The whole mood of the piece is somewhat paradoxically added to by added soprano Patricia Rosario’s beautifully layered, often lyrical live singing, mixed with electronically manipulated recordings of her voice by Scanner.

Jeyasingh’s new piece “Bruise Blood” was less effective. Her starting point was similarly disaffected non-white youth, and Steve Reich’s 1966 work “Come Out,” the words for which were originally spoken by a man wrongly arrested for murder during the Harlem riots of 1954, although the end choreography draws mostly on the dancers’ own biographies. Reich’s score was subsequently developed in collaboration with composer Glyn Perrin and with additional live music by beatbox artist Shlomo. That means he makes music using only his mouth, although in the show he also uses a loop pedal that allows him to layer up samples of his voice.

The dancers never seemed totally at home with the piece, somewhat strange if it was truly autobiographical. Perhaps the problem was the young, bespectacled, livewire Shlomo. His first appearance, right at the beginning seemed rather contrived. He does no more than announce himself via a short ‘musical’ solo. It certainly warmed up the young audience, who fairly predictably whooped and hollered their approval, but it also sent a very clear message that this was about him, and he was the star.

Shlomo’s later contributions were much more part of the piece, but he has a very physical way of making sound, constantly moving as he made all sorts of strange and interesting sounds via the microphone. He has a very natural, uninhibited way of moving, bouncing around the stage with lots of pointing gestures in particular. He seems totally unaware that anyone is watching. And he almost always drew the eye away from the dancers. It would be an interesting experiment to dance the piece with his contribution recorded because, in the end, it was Shlomo who stayed in the memory, not Jeyasingh’s choreography or dancers.

For once this autumn the programme made no claims about being in the spirit of Diaghilev or the new work celebrating him. Having said that, Jeyasingh’s unusual musical collaboration with Shlomo, very much an artist of today who connects with today’s youth, was not only worthwhile, but, I suggest, has rather more to do with that spirit than many of the other works on show that make much greater play of the link.

Author:  David [ Sun Oct 25, 2009 3:56 am ]
Post subject: 

Interestingly I have just found Shlomo's blog on the Internet, in which he headlines Bruise Blood as "Shlomo vs Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company", suggesting he saw it more as a competition between the two art forms rather than a collaboration. It might explain a lot. I would also suggest he won!

Author:  David [ Sun Nov 01, 2009 2:14 am ]
Post subject:  Mark Morris Dance Group

Mark Morris Dance Group

For a review of Mark Morris Dance Group's Dance Umbrella performances at Sadler's Wells go to ... 385#199385

Author:  David [ Sun Nov 01, 2009 4:45 am ]
Post subject:  Rosemary Lee - Common Ground

Common Dance
Rosemary Lee
Borough Hall, Greenwich Dance Agency, London; October 30, 2009

By David Mead

Rosemary Lee has long been interested in making dance for an audience of much wider age and backgrounds than she used to see when she was younger. Her large-scale works, usually site-specific, encourage audiences to see often familiar landmarks or spaces in new ways. Greenwich’s Borough Hall is part of the Greenwich Dance Agency and so used to hosting dance, but many of her previous venues are far from associated with the art form, including Fort Dunlop, a disused tyre factory in Birmingham, The Royal Naval College Greenwich and a ruined abbey.

Like Lee, I have always had an aversion to the term ‘community dance’, which tends to bring with it notions of second-best. Non-paid does not have to, and should never, mean non-professional, at least in terms of attitude and approach. “Common Dance” may have brought together 50 dancers aged 8 to 82, and the Finchley Children’s Music Group, whose singers range from 11 to 19, but I would be surprised if second-rate was a thought that occurred to anyone.

The title “Common Dance” comes from its depiction of the space as a common or village green on which people congregate, share activities and experiences, before dispersing again. As Lee says correctly, many such public spaces in towns have been lost to development, and although they largely survive in rural areas, they are much less used.

It was impossible to escape a sense of autobiography in the choreography. Lee hails originally from East Anglia, part of England known for flat open spaces and huge skies, both of which were present in the work. The dancers frequently flocked and scattered like starlings in autumn as they prepare to migrate. Supported or carried by others, some even ‘flew’, arms often spread wide emphasising the space.

At times it almost seemed to be a lament for times past. The voices of the choir were interwoven with the sonorous playing of English piper Andy Letcher, who occasionally wandered through the space, and an ambient soundscape that included British birdsong, church bells and the sound of the wind blowing through tall grass. Some of the movement, and one section in particular, was full of patterns that had their roots in English folk dance, once a feature of all rural celebration, but that had somehow been subverted.

The performers brought their own special intensity to the piece. They danced with a freedom and an innocence it was a pleasure to share. Yet I cannot help feeling the choreography could have been more interesting. Lee tended to go for a broad brush approach, too often swamping the stage with dancers. It seemed as if she had decided that everyone had to be in every section; given the make-up of the cast an approach that would be understandable but unnecessary. There was also a huge amount of repetition and symmetry, the latter probably inspired by the symmetry of the Hall. One group frequently followed another with the same movement phrase. The action, and the entrances and exits were relentless. It cried out for a moment of peace, maybe only the sound of choir, to allow us to take breath and reflect.

There were some memorable moments, but these almost all came when there was that change of tone and some contrast. They included all the dancers lining up and snaking around the stage like a giant centipede before breaking into smaller groups, and, best of all, a far too brief solo moment for one of the older male performers. He moved smoothly, twisting and turning with an almost tai-chi like quality to the sound of two interwoven solo voices from the choir. Unfortunately he was swamped by other dancers almost immediately. When they left, he was still there, still moving. But the spell had been broken.

Despite the choreographic issues, I will not forget “Common Dance” for a long time. Lee really did manage to convey the mood and emotions she was after. It was a pleasure to share what I feel sure was a very special experience for the dancers. It was a coming together not only of the performers, but them with us, the audience.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:09 am ]
Post subject: 

The Mark Morris Dance Group also took part in Dance Umbrella 2009 and we have three reviews of the two programmes, to be found in our Mark Morris topic: ... 385#199385

Author:  Thea Nerissa Barnes [ Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:38 am ]
Post subject:  NOËL & XABA CORRESPONDANCES 20 October 2009 The Place

CORRESPONDANCES is a series of episodes depicting topics of interest ranging between political and social satire mixed with contemplations on being a woman shared between Noel and Xaba. With opening sound track stating—“I don’t want to go to work today rather stay home and play…” Xaba speaks to the audience while moving in high heels explaining her morning ritual. The descriptions reveal what most women do-checking if eyes need cucumbers and several mirrors in bathroom that allow several views of face, back of head and torso. Noel enters from the back of the house carrying a suitcase. As she enters she kisses several audience members-men and women-before entering the stage space. Protagonist and antagonist meet and admire each other; they share soft caresses and dance together. This foreplay, bumping each other hip, buttocks and other body flank areas and escalates to aggression. The end result causes Xaba to scream out in pain.

The work, visceral and edgy, is a series of episodes linked together by moments to change shoes and/or garment. At one point Noel performs an intricate duet with a white ceramic doll to the Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and Jonny Mercer’s standard Satin Doll sang by Jill Scott. As Noel manipulates it the doll walks in high heels, spins ah la arabesque, is carried in the arch of Noel’s high heel as Noel lies prone and rolls over her back gently as if carrying a human partner. A monologue follows this wonderful duet as Noel proclaims she is a great and powerful woman while denouncing, several negatives traits with an emphatic “no”. Noel also discusses the power of money in Africa and the world saying you can buy anything with enough money—you can buy gold, diamonds, oil and children; even the African continent. Noel’s rant ends with burps that seem to emphasize the bestiality she has witnessed in her circumstance given the politics discussed in her speech. The burps also seem to portend a change in character; direction of the work which takes a more sensual slant with performance becoming less parody and more introspective.

Noel’s hand and arm gestures wrap around her neck and wipe her mouth and her torso in turn. This sequence develops into a duet with Xaba becoming a fulcrum that Noel’s whole body wraps about and falls off of. Xaba steps over her and around and the sequence begins again. They tug and bump each other again and finally Xaba ends on the floor. Moving a table to downstage right the dancers perform a sequence of gestures on the table to the music of Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are made of This). The table gets moved several more times before they place it centre centre. Noel then performs her interpretation of ballet moves called out by Xaba. Noel mocks the ballet terms by giving an obtuse version with a sash of dolls tied around her hips. Eventually the dolls fall out and Noel tosses them around the room. White balloons filled with a white liquid substance are flown in over the performers who now bare foot wearing leotards. They drench themselves in the white substance, drink it and squirt it out of their mouths, slide across the floor and spin in it while a video image presents text of the monologues performed in English and French. The written correspondences between the women are also shown.

The work speaks of several realities and the desire for several ideals that these varied realities instigate. Taking a performative stance the work illustrates through movement and voice several issues regarding femininity, cultural finiteness, and political and social obfuscation. Everyone competes in every way with herself and with other female acquaintances on the street to achieve some ideal woman ness, some understanding of the predicament we all find ourselves in, for dance excellence, for social responsibility, or political astuteness. Noel and Xaba confront the contradictions of being a woman, an African woman, living in their respective countries, living in this globalised world at this particular time.

Author:  Thea Nerissa Barnes [ Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:42 am ]
Post subject:  VINCENT MANTSOE EBHOFOLO 9 October2009 Linbury Studio

In the Meet the Artist discussion Mantsoe encourages audience members to be open to the feelings he offers in his performance. Mantsoe’s vision of dance performance is transcendence through deep trance states. He encourages audience members to not only witness his transcendence but to enter Mantsoe’s world of liminal investigations.

In EBHOFOLO, the stage is set with square pillows forming a circle with a drape hung from the ceiling in the upstage section of the circle. Set design by Ester Mahlangu, each pillow has a covering of black with a different hue of yellow, red, and green depicting a Ndebele symbol. The Ndebele symbol of each pillow faces into the circle while the drape is a blend of greens. In the upstage left corner of the circle is what appears to be a small mound of pink sand. First is heard the sound of shells then Mantsoe enters wearing pants with a patterned jacket covering head as he walks in a circle. The manner seems one of deep frustration. Rarely does he comfort the audience and the mood of the work is extremely introspective.

The movement is complex with some repetition; frenzied with a specific intensity. There is a recognisable Africanist design in the curved-flexible shape of torso, angularity in arms and legs and percussive inflection. For Mantose dance has to portray a character without rarefying movement. Technique or the glorification of prowess is not Mantose’s performative quest.

There are high jumps mixed with smooth travelling steps-shimmies that indicate enjoyment or satisfaction. The jacket becomes shorts and pants are taken off. If one assumes that each gesture has significance and each act portrayals of an insight, the pants are a male formulation and the wrapping around legs the creation of a skirt or feminising of gestures. Indeed there is a moment downstage right where Mantsoe incurs a female ness in his movement of shoulders and contortion of face. At the end Mantsoe uses a wooden scoop to scatter the pink sand across the stage and with twig brush creates a design on the floor. Mantsoe moves the pillows then walks through the sand with one of the pillows on his head. Curiously Mantsoe’s steps do not leave a print on the design.
Ebhofolo (“this madness”) seeks to illustrate through cathartic dance Mantsoe’s interpretation of a grappling of ideals. Working with set designer, Ester Mahlangu, Mantsoe draws from his experience which combines Ndebele, Xhosa (Nguni Speaking) Sotho and Pedi ancestry to explore through dance transitions between Ntlo holo – Ntlo e Nyane, Forecourt and Inner Space. These are the four parts of an Ndebele homestead. Many traditional African homesteads are built in this manner to create space and a sense of identity and nature. The homestead is also a reflection of inter and intra personal relationships-family members to each other, the world within and outside the compound and ancestors who reside in a plane amongst the living.

The designs on the pillows illustrate an interaction of various colours which paint an identity. Mantsoe’s danced gestures are in some respects like the paintings reveal various identities. There are four characters within the work which portray male and female characteristics. Feminising movement was an effort to acknowledge domesticity. The transformation into female ness in gesture was not for comic portrayal. Feminisation was done with reverence and respect of the care and responsibility witnessed by Mantsoe of Nbedele women who paint their compounds with varying significances. Mantsoe also acknowledges that ancestors are around him as he performs. The feeling of the audience and spirits, the presences of ancestors are always with Mantsoe while he dances.

The music, recordings from Kayan Kalhor & Ali Akbar Modari, Tatit, Dinda Hamma Sarre were chosen for their distinctive ambiance. These sounds create an environment suitable for Mantsoe’s trance states. Mantsoe has used various other world music artists ranging between Chinese, Japanese, as well as African and classical. Mantsoe’s choices are a selection of music seemingly composed live andof the moment. Mantsoe believes they speak to him and aides his cathartic sensibility.

With the Nbedele, for which Ebhofolo finds some of its inspiration, mud-walled houses are painted with expressive symbols for communication between Ndebele people. The paintings are abstract etchings representing continuity and cultural resistance to a current circumstance as well as sense of pride for an individual house whole and collectively as a community. Personal prayers, self-identification, values, emotions, and marriage are among the abstract messages portrayed in the paintings that use various shades of red, yellow to gold, sky blue, green and pink design on a white background. Nbedele women are the purveyors of this painting tradition and the traditions and histories of each family and their community. The tradition of house painting is passed down in the family generation to generation by the mothers with the result being a well painted house illustrating a good wife and mother.

Mantsoe uses performance to traverse Ndebele space and time to acknowledge the significance of domestic care, preservation of history and the contradictions and frustrations experienced by a culture under threat. Mantsoe invites audience members to experience similar feelings through his visual and exceptionally visceral perspectives of the tensions between current living binaries in this part of South Africa-rural vs. urban; essentialism vs. assimilation; preservation of cultural mores vs. erasure of unique cultural significances. Mantsoe achieves through cathartic expression an enlightened understanding of Ndebele artistry.

Author:  Thea Nerissa Barnes [ Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:45 am ]
Post subject:  OPIYO OKACH Shift…centre – Series 10 23 Oct 2009 The Place

“Interested in the fabric of cross-cultural space as a conceptual framework for choreographic enquiry”, Opiyo presents a promenade space for audience members to move about as performers improvisations commence within the space. Hanging from the ceiling are several partitions of clear vinyl adjacent white taped squares on the floor. Benches are placed about the room to afford those audience members who choose to sit. Most though stand about turning to watch a near by duet, a distant solo or trio. The performers are dressed as some of the audience members and periodically blend in becoming audience members themselves. The movement vocabulary is consistent with contemporary dance genre making the movement discourse shared between Opiyo’s dancers and British collaborators straightforward. Scrolling on a wall and on the floor are quotes by several noted individuals, writers, and heads of state-George W. Bush, Isaae Karanja, Kefa Oiro, that bring a sense of global intrusion in our pretend global utopia. The words range between sensible platitude and social pessimism.

Towards the middle of the work an African singer, Anastasia Akumu, sings and moves with the dancers. Aside from glimpses of distinctive Africanist movements, stomping of foot, angularity in torso with isolated movements of chest and hip, Anastasia’s voice is the only recognisable “African” characteristic seen in the work.

Opiyo post show discussion states he strove to create with his set designer, Jean-Christophe Lanquetin, an environment to show and share; that exchange was a crucial concept in the dramaturgy. The space is at first a void that is then infused with the presence of both dancers and audience members who invoke a crossing of cultures. Opiyo intends to make performance more transparent so to lead those involved on both sides of the performative equation a means to appreciate this moment. The vinyl serves to satisfy this choice providing transparency for the performer and audience member to see each other.

Traditional African dance practice examines identity, reclaims history, or explores binaries that fracture cultural essence. Opiyo seeks to challenge this expectation of African choreographic endeavour by acknowledging difference in present day Africa. Africa is a convergence of difference; of different times, of different people. Authenticity is difference not any one specific, essentialist concept but a host of different realisations. There is also this idea of passing on; contributing, individual points of view; each person bringing their own reality to the work as the scrolling of words on the floor indicates. Words from various perspectives, some extremely contentious others inspired vigilance that characterise the varied realities that exist in the world. These interventions temper the various cultural manifestations that are the cross cultural fabric of Africa. Opiyo’s work offers the witness an opportunity to respect this duplicity for it is the reality Opiyo has witnessed.

The performers, African and British, are choreographers in their own right chosen by Opiyo for what they contribute to the diverse fabric of the work making Opiyo, as his work in African dance festival attest, a catalyst for cross cultural exchange. Opiyo’s work is good in posing questions regarding global pluralism as it affects Africa and Africans as they traverse the dance planes of every continent. What is seen in this work is the affects of cultural exchange—a mimetic of post modern choreographic constructions; familiar investigations of making dance through improvisation that defies the reified body for recognisable human ness to design in space and express through gesture and movement a particular social political positionality. There is nothing new for contemporary dance in Opiyo’s presentation. The work is wonderfully performed, distinctive in its own right and easily placed within the scheme of contemporary dance making.

Opiyo indicates that Anastasia was placed within the fabric of the work to sabotage its type of difference, its same ness; to African-nize the space. In an equation where difference is norm, what one assumes as African, becomes subversion in a performative act that posits cultural difference as status quo. Cultural difference in this work can be read as European, American and African. Why are we invited to view anything “African” as subversion? Africa is after all a collection of several nations with global understandings of dance making affording many opportunities to reflect some of that diversity through the prism of contemporary dance.

In the past fifteen years contemporary dance in Africa has been growing and developing its own vibrant vision. African festivals, tours, and choreographic encounters bring African artists together to share as well as building institutions to support African dance making. This circulating network of African artists brings together different aesthetics and different approaches. Dance umbrella provided an opportunity for international exchange and for Opiyo the opportunity to show his work in London’s Dance Umbrella. Opiyo believes Dance umbrella offered an opportunity to not be artistically ghettoised and labelled under a banner of some notion of African dance. Dance umbrella though presented these artists, Mantsoe, Noël/Xaba and Opiyo and others as testimony that there is a thriving contemporary dance community in Africa; a strategy of defence that seems to isolate these artists more so than include them within mainstream contemporary dance.

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