School of Arts

Dance Lecturer Receives Special Invite to 2022 National Arts Festival

Dr Lliane Loots’s dance work ‘seven ways to say goodbye’.
Dr Lliane Loots’s dance work ‘seven ways to say goodbye’.

UKZN Drama and Performance Studies lecturer Dr Lliane Loots’s recent dance work with the Flatfoot Dance Company is being featured at this year’s National Arts Festival (NAF) in Makhanda (Grahamstown).

Loots’s dance work ‘seven ways to say goodbye’- created with a 2021 grant from The Playhouse Company – has been selected as one of the few invited main platform performances for this year’s festival.

Stories of turbulence, healing and triumph thread through this year’s programme as NAF returns live in Makhanda, running from 23 June to 3 July. The festival’s artistic director Ms Rucera Seethal said: ‘This year we have invited works where artists have bravely located themselves inside historical moments, failing ecologies, deeply personal questions, and even endings.’

Loots’sseven ways to say goodbye’, set against a time of self-isolation and social distancing, confronts human relationships: father to son, mother to daughter, lover to lover, old age to dying, and individual to politics in a moving journey to finding self. It confronts the idea that saying goodbye is also about leaving behind that which history binds us to, both personally and politically. In traversing the inner journeys of intimacy, the dance work is finally a celebration of all that is sacred and beautiful.

It was created by Loots through an intimate and personal workshopped process with eight of Durban’s most gifted contemporary dancers: Sifiso Khumalo, Jabu Siphika, Zinhle Nzama, Yaseen Manuel, Mthoko Mkhwanazi, Siseko Dube, Ndumiso ‘Digga’ Dube and Sbonga Ndlovu. It features lighting and audio visuals by Wesley Maherry and costume design by Greg King.

Said Loots: ‘This dance work came out of trying to transform isolation into community after the heavy COVID-19 lockdown. It was born after the looting and violence in KZN last year and the unease in the grand narratives of our politics in South Africa. It is an embodied diary or journal that echoes the early pillow books of Japan’s Sei Shonagon as it lists seven ways to say goodbye. It is full of both sorrow and joy and is, finally, about the transformative power of the small every day connections we have to the bodies that hold (and hinder) us.’

There will be three performances of the show in the Great Hall at NAF between 27 and 29 June.

Meanwhile, Drama and Performance Studies (HCC) alumnus Ms Kristi-Leigh Gresse has been named as the NAF Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance for 2022. This is one of the country’s highest honours awarded annually to a young South African making waves and pushing boundaries in their discipline.

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