After the triumphant Grahamstown premiere of Luyanda Sidiya’s Siva, this dance work will be spellbinding Gauteng and Free State audiences in August.
This year’s Standard Bank Young Artist for dance, who is the artistic director at Vuyani Dance Theatre in Johannesburg, choreographed and directed this cutting-edge piece, which is inspired by the number “seven” – considered divine or fortuitous in many cultures and belief systems.
Siva, which opened to rave reviews and standing ovations at the National Arts Festival, is now heading to the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (Pacofs) in Bloemfontein for two performances on August 5, followed by a short season at the Market Theatre complex’s John Kani theatre in Johannesburg, from August 12 to 16.
For Sidiya, the warm reception has been a “humbling experience”. He credits Siva’s success to the dedication of his “great team” of dancers, musicians and technicians.
“I worked hard with the dancers, but you never know how people will receive it. So I was overjoyed when I read the reviews – I wasn’t sure audiences would understand the isiXhosa narration, but people connected beyond the language. It gave me hope that I was doing something right.”
Such was the impact of Siva in Grahamstown that Jerry Mofokeng, artistic director of Pacofs, immediately snapped it up for two performances at the Bloemfontein theatre complex. The production had already been confirmed for a season at the Market, as well as for performances in Beijing in November, and Sidiya says discussions are ongoing with other theatre managements.
“It would be great if it could be seen and appreciated by our own people,” he says, before going on to explain: “Siva was inspired by the completeness we all seek and the void we experience as human beings. The number seven is associated with perfection and wholeness, and is regarded as a holy or lucky number. But it’s not blocked in a religious or traditional context. Rather, it’s grounded in social issues, enabling audiences to relate to it in various ways and enter into conversations with themselves.”
Sidiya believes that Vuyani’s vision, scope and creative output has been enriched by the company’s international exposure but also by the partnerships it has been forging with various local arts organisations and funding instruments. This includes the National Arts Council, Business and Arts South Africa and the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, and also theatres such as the Market and Pacofs.
“The more we tour overseas, the more open-minded we become,” he believes. “Back home in South Africa, there are seldom discussions between theatre managements regarding possible co-productions.
“We need more theatres to say: ‘Here’s a beautiful production – how do we make sure it has a life of its own?’ But we are starting to forge those partnerships, whereby we meet, find common ground, and speak about economics and how much each party will invest. It gets the ball rolling – and ultimately means that quality work gets seen as widely as possible.”
To experience contemporary dance at its most innovative, book to see Siva through Computicket, or call the Pacofs or Market Theatre box offices.