Observing the dancers’ powerful lifts and impressive floor work, one would never guess that the Dance and Movement course of the South African Performing Arts Conservatory (SAPAC) is not yet one year old. The class is small, comprising eight students: four in their second and third years of dance training, and four in their first year. Despite the course’s infancy, the students were able to work with celebrated choreographers Timothy le Roux, Bailey Snyman and Nicola Haskins for their Festival performance, The Genesis Project.
Inspired by his interaction with larger ballet companies, Le Roux’s piece, which was choreographed especially for SAPAC, portrays the challenging life of a dancer, in a competitive and often destructive environment. Magnet by Haskins and Snyman is a social commentary about HIV and Aids, where one dancer who is treated like a social pariah goes on to infect the rest of the ensemble.
“It is so lucky that in its first year we were able to work with such amazing people, who gave us their time and effort for very little in return,” said dance lecturer and director, Debra Gush, who has been involved in the dance business for 22 years, as both a performer and teacher. Having worked with a number of choreographers during this time, she was able to rope them into the project. “I really feel privileged,” Gush said.
The college tries to expose its students to as many styles of dance as possible. “The dancers are all very fresh; some of them are only in their first year. We still need to do a lot of training,” said Gush. She said appearing at Festival was crucial for the students, in both performing and seeing other performances.
Despite the challenge of training the company’s dancers in time for Festival, The Genesis Project put together a good show.