FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY in partnership with Stable Theatre presents its second annual edition of the FLATFOOT ACCESS FESTIVAL offering a week-long engagement of workshops, panel discussions, and performances from 28 November to 3 December during South Africa’s National Disability Rights Awareness Month (3 November – 3 December).
The festival celebrates FLATFOOT’s 20-year history of encountering disability through dance education and development work, and more recently in their professional development work.
“The journey toward access and training for dancers living with both intellectual and physical disabilities lies at the heart of FLATFOOT, and this small ever-growing festival,” says FLATFOOT’s Artistic Director Lliane Loots. “It is a wonderful moment of celebrating not just the incredible dancers, dance makers, and choreographers, but of the truly transformative power of dance to bind society together.”
New works from the 7-year-old integrated dance programme working with dancers with Down Syndrome who fondly call themselves the “FLATFOOT Downie Dance Company”, will be performed. The company also performed at the inaugural SIBIKWA BODY MOVES festival in Benoni, Gauteng in 2022. For this festival they will perform alongside FLATFOOT in a new work called “now that we are here …” created by Lliane Loots in collaboration with all the dancers.
With the success and growth of the FLATFOOT Downie Dance programme, FLATFOOT set out (in the beginning of 2023) to start a new intake of dancers and training. After a series of workshops, and not excluding anyone, a group of six amazing dancers stuck it out and the group – now referred to as the “FLATFOOT ACCESS PANTHERS” – was born. The group was named by Kelly Louw – one of the participants. This will be their first public performance – and together and alongside the FLATFOOT company, they will perform a work called “finding home”.
Loots’s ongoing work with dancers using wheelchairs is showcased in a special trio created for dancer Julia Pitt alongside FLATFOOT’s Jabu Siphika and Ndumiso ‘Digga” Dube. “This new work is called “the infinite space between us”, and is a journey taken by three dancers that delves into how we hold, walk and wheel past or towards one another as we attempt to find or break connections,” explains Loots. Loots’s on-going choreographic interrogations into the intimate politics of relationships, are given a unique spin as the dancers play around with duet, trio, solo formats – and a wheelchair.
The FLATFOOT ACCESS FESTIVAL also hosts two special guests: Ssister dancers from WACO’s DANCE MOVEMENT under the choreographic guidance of Jarryd Watson. DANCE MOVEMENT is a dance project that was created in 2007 to give access to children and youth, artists, dancers, choreographers, and people living with disabilities to dance training and skills development especially based in the South Durban area of Wentworth. They perform a special work called “Medicine” with choreography by Watson and featuring dancers Kyle Bowles, Bheki Khotsolo, and Cole Walljee.
The second special guest is Jürg Koch from Switzerland. Jürg has been working internationally as a performer, choreographer, and dance educator for over 20 years. He received his MA from the London Contemporary Dance School (1998) and, significantly, worked with Candoco Dance Company. His dance integrates disabled and non-disabled performers and this informs his artistic and educational approach.
Jürg will run a series of workshops titled “in response to …” over three days of the festival (28 – 30 November). Sixteen eThekwini dancers will work on dance and access “in response to…”. The outcome of the workshop will have a staged viewing on Thursday 30 November at 2.30pm at The Stable Theatre and will be followed by a panel discussion with Jürg Koch, Lliane Loots, Jarryd Watson, and all the dancers from the workshops. The panel will discuss, amongst other issues, the working process used by Jürg and will offer space for participants to speak about their dance experience over the three days, all the while celebrating the rich diversity of disability dance work being done in Durban. Attendance at this viewing and panel discussion is free.
Finally, Jürg offers a small deeply personal performance from his own “The Printer’s Tray”. On the one hand, a printer’s tray is a sorting box, divided into a number of compartments to store movable type for printing. On the other hand, printer trays are used to store and display keepsakes and souvenirs; they are placeholders for memories and stories. For each event or performance, several pieces from Jürg’s collection are selected and presented as a linked set, at times with the possibility for the audience to choose the music for the performance of a particular piece.
The Festival has been made possible through the partnership with the eThekwini Municipality’s Stable Theatre, with support funding from PESP 4, the National Arts Council and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture. The Festival also acknowledges the URKI funded African Disability Dance Network (ADDN) and how they have supported and encouraged disability and access dance work in South Africa and on the African continent.
Performances and workshops take place at The Stable Theatre 115 Johannes Nkosi (formerly Alice Street) Durban and take place on Saturday 2 December at 6.30pm, and repeated on Sunday 3 December at 2.30pm. Tickets are R80. The Stable Theatre is wheelchair friendly and there is safe parking on site. Bookings are through Computicket :