ACE’s Artistic Director reports from South Africa

Taking a quick break from rehearsals for new co-production ‘7 Pillars’ in Jo’burg this December, Gail Parmel sends us her thoughts on this first week with Vuyani Dance Theatre at this momentous time in South African history.

Phase one: of research and development of 7 Pillars.

What a time to be going to South Africa. With the death of Nelson Mandela arriving in South Africa you could feel the eerie Sadness but at the same time the over whelming respect the people here hold for him.

We began the first day of rehearsals with a moment of silence. From then on it has been none stop creative vibes.

In the studio we came with our 3 dancers, Iona Waite, Jerome Wilks and Yukiko Masui. To be greeted by the full Company of Vuyani dancers (8) and a handful of amazing musicians. Luyanda Sidiya the Artistic Director of Vuyani dancer company and long standing friend and former performer with ACE dance and music took us through warm up, introducing our dancers to the Afro-fusion Style of the Company.

Working from the idea of 7 Pillars and in particular the word Freedom, we began by talking, musicians, dancers artistic team sat and asked the question, “What does Freedom mean to you” and are you free. A lengthy deep discussion erupted and no conclusion was discovered but a sense of exploration and wanting go further with this subject emerged. A number of key words materialised: Fear, Restriction, culture, judgment, trust etc…All great words to begin the creative process.

We are delving deep and at times it is uncomfortable, un-realistic and sad but we look forward to what comes out by the end of this first phase. We continue to explore, search and learn about our newly found family, Vuyani Dance Theatre and ourselves.

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