Dance Umbrella festival is back by popular demand

We Are Still Marching by Sonnyboy Motau was another highlight this year. Picture: Herman Verwey

We Are Still Marching by Sonnyboy Motau was another highlight this year. Picture: Herman Verwey

If there’s one thing that shouldn’t die, it’s dance in SA.

Dance Umbrella reincarnated in Pretoria this year following the festival of movement’s end in 2017.

Last year, the State Theatre announced there was renewed interest, with education, performance and celebration at the heart of the revived festival.

On until the end of the week, Dance Umbrella also incorporated a momentous book launch exploring contemporary dance in the South African context. Adrienne Sichel’s book, Body Politics: Fingerprinting South African Contemporary Dance, is a pioneering peek into a world not often explored.

Over the past 40 years, the author has documented the changing landscape of contemporary dance. Her contribution to the dance industry has earned her the respect of both the national and international dance community.

Body Politics: Fingerprinting South African Contemporary Dance is a blend of Sichel’s writing and experience, combined with a vast body of research material on the evolution of contemporary dance in South Africa.

This fingerprinting exercise connects some of the dots of how a very valuable, even unique, heritage, has taken shape.

The book features artists, companies and festivals that were early pioneers and contemporary players. It expertly captures Dance Umbrella.

From free shows to ticketed ones, there’s still so much to see at Dance Umbrella and the State Theatre is the perfect venue. On Sunday, this year’s festival is closing with Rise of the African Queer.

An interdisciplinary live performance exploring perspectives of the queer body of colour from the viewpoint of history, a personal narrative and Afrofuturism. It questions the social constructs of alienation, coming out and perceiving the future.

African literature, physical body language, video projections and experimental sounds are used in the show.

It seems the revival has been effective so now it’s about growing audiences and sponsorships. Because if there’s one thing that shouldn’t die, it’s dance in SA.

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