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On the road and in bed with dance at Baxter

Iesu and Tamryn Escalante are performing at the Baxter Dance Festival Picture Oscar O’Ryan

The opening night of the Baxter Dance Festival on Thursday took us on a trip and then gave us a whole lot of loving.

First John Linden’s Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking held us riveted, reminding us of how it felt to be On the Road with Jack Kerouac, or even John Steinbeck. Then the same troupe, Garage Dance Ensemble, with guest performers Levern Botha and Ciara Barron, burst on to the stage and stopped just short of making passionate love to us in Alfred Hinkel’s Bolero.

In Hitchhiking we were along for the ride, watching our fellow travellers tell stories with their bodies. Combining great teamwork and powerful individual performances, discipline and complete freedom, the six dancers didn’t give us a chance to look back or wonder where we were going. We were on the road, transfixed by often familiar scenes. Oh, the fun you can have and the trouble you can get into hitchhiking.

Then we were dragged into a steamy nightclub (I am thinking somewhere in Latin America) for the seduction that is the Bolero. This is a piece that leaves you panting, wondering immediately when you will get to see it again.

Catch Mbulelo Ngubombini at the Baxter Dance Festival. Picture: Oscar O’Ryan
In town from Canada: Joshua Beamish

Travel and seduction made great choices for the opening of the 12th Baxter Dance Festival’s programme that showcases 65 works, everything from tango to hiphop, over 10 days. Oh, what to choose…

Something that might help here is festival’s newly introduced R250 package that secures a ticket to seven shows.

Saturday night promises quite a joyride with 12 groups putting on performances of 10 minutes each. Like the Cape Town weather you don’t need to worry if you don’t like what is happening right now, it will all be different in no time at all and will keep changing.

The festival, which runs until October 15, showcases some of the best in local dance and a number of works from other regions near and far, such as Okiep in Namaqualand (Alfred Hinkel, John Linden, Byron Klaasen), Johannesburg (Luyanda Sidiya), Canada (Josh Beamish) and Namibia (Hamish Olivier).

“It is very rewarding to receive the support and encouragement of the local dance communities in this city, province and beyond. This is evident in the number of participants each year,” said Nicolette Moses, artistic director of the Baxter Dance Festival.

“We are deeply grateful to our partners and sponsors who I wish to honour for their assistance in making this festival possible – Tsogo Sun, National Arts Council and Stellar Winery.”

The full programme is online at or on Theatre. Booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet.

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