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Poetry in motion

Jazzart Dance Theatre Mziyanda Mancam’s Unlimited

It feels kinda silly to say it but there is SO much to look forward to in Cape Town right now. I say silly because it is not like there wasn’t so much to look forward to yesterday; it is not as if I haven’t already been driven to use up my limited vocabulary’s superlatives.

But, being spoilt for choice (and having so little time for sleep or one of those real job things) is the Capetonian’s cross to bear. In the words of Alex Dodd:

Living in a place as consistently spectacular as Cape Town is probably a bit like being married to Milla Jovovich or Michael Fassbender. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself to wake up all over again to the ridiculous hotness of the whole situation.

But, still, how I wish I hadn’t already raved quite so much about the Baxter and its explosively evolving and ever-inspiring smorgasbord of an offering. The last superlative has long been used up, it is soiled, second-hand, part-used by the time the 9th Baxter Dance Festival sashays into sight.

Some consolation then that the opening night of the Western Cape’s leading dance platform left us speechless. As we were thrown off at the top of the 5-act wave of a night we were no longer women of words. No, we were women in motion, Action Girls, breathlessly smashing and grabbing at the Box Office for more.

Fortunately there is much, much more. More than 500 dancers showcasing dynamic and diverse dance talent in 11ty-million performances from October 3-12 2013.

From Okiep to Cape Town
Byron Klassen, guest artist Debbie Goodman (centre) and Adelaide Majoor in Blood of the Young presented by Alfred Hinkel and John Linden’s Garage company

Each one of last night’s five pieces seemed to build on the last one, compelling us forward, making us clap harder each time. If sustaining this upward wave of emotion and applause seemed unlikely by Act Number 3, Garage, it was only for the minute before these three started telling their haunting and sharp-edged stories through implausabily elegant thrusts and contortions. Brush-strokes of blood, pain manisfested as beauty.

Then JazzArt burst on to the stage as Act Number 4 and we discovered just how loud we could clap and found that we were not alone standing up briefly and even shouting a little. I found myself wondering incredulously, There are 9 people who can move exactly like that, with such power and such grace … and they are all here … tonight?

PiercedAnd then on to Act Number 5, Joshua Beamish. A man, one man to fill the stage that was filled just minutes ago by those other 9 extraordinarily sizzling, synchronised creatures?

Poor sucker, I thought.

But somehow he filled up all the space, in that way that love can surprise you by suddenly filling up your chest. He did not need anyone else, nor did he need to touch the corners of the stage: he pulled us all into the centre and held us there, awed and transfixed.

The Baxter Dance Festival, the brainchild of Nicolette Moses, associate producer and planning manager at the Baxter, deserves (and needs!) your support. Now in its 9th year, the festival provides emerging and established South African dance companies and choreographers an opportunity to present their work. Not one dancer gets paid, there is hardly any budget.

The more than 50 entries this year range from contemporary to neo-classical, flamenco, fusion, physical theatre, modern, African, jazz, hip hop, belly and Indian dancing.

The Main Programme (8pm from October 3-12) features work by established professional companies, the newly commissioned choreographer’s piece and that of invited choreographers or companies. The Off Main Programme (5pm, Saturday October 5) will showcase young emerging choreographers and student work and the ‘Fringe’ programme (October 12), will feature work by youth groups, dance studios, school groups and traditional dancers.

More info at Booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet.

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