This is my first entry of several from my trip to South Africa. I have come to attend FNB Dance Umbrella, the annual showcase of South African contemporary dance. This year the festival has been curated by choreographer, Gregory Maqoma, with whom the Bates Dance Festival has worked since 2005 and whose work, “Beautiful Me” developed, in part, at BDF, we presented in October 2009. Over the course of the next eleven days I will be attending artist talks and performances by many choreographers and companies as well as hopefully fitting in some tourist time. My trip is supported by the African Contemporary Arts Consortium, of which BDF is a founding member, and the New England Foundation for the Arts Travel Fund.
I am thrilled to finally be setting foot on South African soil having hosted South African dancers since 1994. I will be seeing new works and having visits with old friends as well as meeting new artists including Vincent Mantsoe, Moektsi Koena, Lucky Kele, Sello Pesa, Neli Xaba and Gregory Maqoma.
I am nestled into the charming Tama Rumah Guest House in the Melville district of Joburg after a 22 hours trip yesterday across the wide Atlantic. Fifteen hours straight from Atlanta to Joburg on a completely full plane that included thirty excited teenagers on their way for a mission trip. Bongani, my very polite driver, brought me from the airport via a scenic tour of some lovely north Joburg neighborhoods (partly to avoid rush hour traffic on the highway). Lush plantings and mature shade trees abound. Upon arrival, my African Consortium colleague, Marjorie Neset was at the door waiting to greet me. We promptly headed around the corner to a groovy little strip of cafes and shops for a soup and white wine.
For a different slant on this trip visit my colleague, Marjorie Neset’s blog at: http://mneset.wordpress.com/