Today, April 29, 2020 is International Dance Day. Cape Town’s acclaimed Figure of 8 Dance Collective is celebrating with a day of virtual dance events. It is FREE! The lockdown International Dance Day programme includes dance classes, conversation with artists, live screening [film] of the production Most Honest Man and showcasing newly created performances.
The Figure of 8 Dance Collective is headed up by award-winning artist, Grant van Ster and Shaun Oelf.
TheCapeRobyn: A brief over view of the day?
Grant van Ster: It’s a full day of exciting virtual dance events in celebration of international dance day. We start the day with exciting classes taught by guest teachers Charlie van Rooyen and Lesego van Niekerk. For the afternoon we have a variety of professionals from the dance fraternity discuss the topic: Change. Adapt. Grow. How has the pandemic reshaped your career? The classes and conversation will not be streamed on social media, but available via Zoom.
As you know Most Honest Man premiered at the Baxter Theatre Centre in 2015 and it was very well received, so we thought we’d give people an opportunity to see it live via Facebook who were not able to see it then. Then we end day with the exhilarating showcase of solo pieces that were choreographed by dancers during lockdown. The theme for the solo pieces is You Space, Your Dance. We were overwhelmed by the creativity of the pieces that we received and super thrilled to share it with everyone.
TheCapeRobyn: Most Honest Man was staged at the Baxter as part of The Architecture of Tears?
Grant van Ster: Yes it was part of the double bill, and directed by Mdu Kweyama, and assistant director and dramaturgy, Alex McCarthy and incredible lighting design by Benever Arendse and music led by Bongile Mantsai. This production was made possible by the Rolf-Stephan Nussbaum Foundation. This piece premiered at the pinnacle of our career as Figure of 8 Eight.
It is based on Shakespeare’s Othello, Most Honest Man. It looks at the relationship between Othello (performed by Grant) and Iago (performed by Shaun), exploring the notions of sexual jealousy and its power to destroy. The piece delves into issues such as trust, virtue, amorality, projection and isolation.
TheCapeRobyn: Has the film recording of Most Honest Man -been screened before?
Grant van Ster: No, it has not been screened before this would be the first time.
TheCapeRobyn: Here we are in lockdown in the pandemic. Creatives have been shattered by lockdown. Initially, the experts were saying that a vaccine could be around by next January . Now, they have no idea. Going forward – when lockdown restrictions are eased – how do you as a company, and as artists, envisage live dance theatre?
Grant van Ster: At this stage, it’s really hard to predict what things will be like 7/8 months; a year from now. We aren’t sure what restrictions will be implemented for large gatherings, and honestly it’s going to take time for people to trust and take a chance to sit in a confined space until a vaccine is found. This will definitely open the door for open air/site specific events, however those will also have certain restrictions.
We are definitely going to need to think out of the box, the arts scene is evolving right now and we would need to adapt in order to stay afloat, connected to the community and be creative. Partnerships and collaborations with various organisations will play a vital role in how the dance scene will be reshaped and we are up for the challenge, as this experience has only made us resilient and enthusiastic to break barriers.
There will definitely be limits to people visiting the theatre again, many have been severely affected with companies closing and salaries being cut, and honestly buying a ticket to the theatre might not be a priority after this lockdown. We guess that only time will tell and we’ll see what direction theatres will take as that’s our main hosts for performances.
Funding has and will always be an ongoing obstacle, however it’s up to us to find sustaining ways to support ourselves. It’s difficult as there are limits with virtual events but we are definitely reaching more people, especially through our online classes. People are joining from abroad that wouldn’t normally step into a dance studio.
TheCapeRobyn: Time to get creative with immersive dance/theatre? Each audience person must don a branded mask when attending a performance?
Grant van Ster: Yes, now is the time to push the envelope and get creative, but that creativity needs to be directed towards the right streams and avenues.
TheCapeRobyn: Anything else to add about your celebratory day and in general – reflections about dance and the role it will play in the months ahead?
Grant van Ster: This day is mainly to celebrate dance, but also brings connection amongst our people and not just dancers, but the arts community as a whole. Dance has always unified people and we hope that once this all over that the sense of connectedness, unity and support will continue.
TheCapeRobyn: This all comes down to the nub – everyone has been amazing – energy, creativity on virtual platforms – but savings are exhausted – many people have taken out loans – creatives need to generate income. How does one do that in months to come?
Grant van Ster: It’s indeed a sad reality that so many freelance artists have been affected by this pandemic, it’s even harder for us as freelancers to be approved for a loan from the bank. We are optimistic that we will bounce back, reconnecting with creatives in the industry and get back on our feet. As daunting as this all sounds, we shouldn’t let this deter our goals for the future.
Image credit: Grant van Ster and Shaun Oelf in Most Honest Man [premiered at the Baxter Theatre in 2015]. Photo by Oscar O’ Ryan. Pic supplied.
International Dance Day 2020 with with Figure of 8 Dance Collective, Cape Town, South Africa
Links via Zoom
Commercial Jazz Dance Class by Charlie van Rooyen
ZOOM – https://bit.ly/3aGSiD7
✳Commercial Latin Dance Class by Lesego van Niekerk
ZOOM – https://bit.ly/2VCKuOx
✳ Couch Conversations
ZOOM – https://bit.ly/3eWfPUj
Featuring: Janine Booyens (freelance teacher and choreographer)
Londiwe Khoza (dancer – Batsheva Dance Company)
Louisa Talbot (choreographer/artist)
Tercia Amsterdam (founding artistic director Dance Theatre Africa)
Terry Sauls (Co-founder of POP21 and choreographer)
Grant van Ster and Shaun Oelf (founders FO8)
✳ Live Screening of Most Honest Man
Streamed via Facebook
✳ Contemporary Dance Class by Grant van Ster and Shaun Oelf
(ZOOM – https://bit.ly/3eMBuhD)
✳ Showcase of new, original dance works: Your Space, Your Dance
Streamed via Facebook
Follow on Facebook and Instagram
The entire day will be FREE of CHARGE. Donations are welcomed via EFT or Snapscan
✔ GE van Ster