Now in her seventies (though she doesn’t look it), Blank appeared in several of the excerpts from pieces she’d choreographed, as well as a couple of solo works dedicated by the dancers to their teacher and mentor.
A few technical issues – iffy microphones and soundtracks that could have been more cleanly edited didn’t detract from an atmosphere that was wonderfully warm. Dance pieces don’t often allow for audiences to feel any sort of intimacy with the artists. Here, though, because Blank’s efforts over the years have had such widespread effect, the opening night of Blank Page felt like a big family celebration with relatives you actually like.
The range of pieces on offer make this an ideal show for art lovers who aren’t sure if they’re ready to commit to deciphering dance. Highlights included the work of Nelisiwe Xaba (she stands on her head, allowing her legs to do the bulk of the work) and future star Phelelani Ndakrokra, aka Remember, whose complicated, muscle-straining routine with a giant hoop was made to look as difficult as making a cup of tea.
MC Simon Rowe did an excellent job introducing and linking the various facets of the programme, and Blank’s legacy was underlined by the collaboration of four generations of students for a stage-filling finale.