Writing Dance Intimately

Writing Dance Intimately

A conversation: the role of the dance writer as dance goes digital Panellists: Tammy Ballantyne Webber (Johannesburg); Ntshadi Mofokeng (Johannesburg); Thobile Maphanga (Durban) with contribution from Kivithra Naicker, (Seoul/Durban)

– Session and Q&A facilitated by Sarahleigh Castelyn (London, UK).

Abstract

Our presentation will take the form of a round-table/panel discussion grounded in a series of questions and observations that arose from a collaborative writing project which partnered with the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative’s My Body My Space Public Arts Festival (MBMS2021) hosted entirely on WhatsApp in 2021. The opportunity presented itself to offer a nuanced and curated response to the festival.

The Ar(t)chive team, consisting of Tammy Ballantyne Webber (dance writer, researcher, editor and former dancer; GAU), Thobile Maphanga (writer, curator, dancer; KZN), Kivithra Naicker (artist, writer and teacher; Seoul/KZN) and Ntshadi Mofokeng (writer, cultural worker, dancer; GAU) rolled out very tight, short-form reviews over 3 weeks to complement the platform. Three of us were also invited to participate in the dance writing residency as part of the first digital JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience in August 2020 so our journey and learnings have encompassed experience in long form and short form reviewing.

Our discussion will be rooted in the altered perspectives and expectations we have of digital dance, as we look for high quality performances which offer a unique experience through careful editing and collaborations with videographers, sound editors and directors.

Three key questions to be discussed are: 

  • How are we receiving and perceiving this digital work?
  • How can we connect with the BODY as central to the works?
  • How do we, as specialist dance writers, given this digital context, communicate our thoughts, offer critique and capture the immediacy for the readers? This round-table hopes to open conversations around the newer intimacies that digital performance offers us, whilst negotiating the distance that the screen creates.

Biographies:

Tammy Ballantyne Webber holds an M.A (Rhodes University) with a specialist interest in dance and physical performance. She was a performer and teacher for many years and since 2002, has worked as an independent contractor, researcher, teacher, arts activist and freelance dance writer. She is currently Research Associate at The Ar(t)chive (NPC) at the Wits School of Arts and is working towards a PhD.

Thobile Maphanga is a Durban based dance practitioner, creative collaborator, and emerging writer. Her recent work has been site-specific, and film based, as she interrogates how we define and make the arts, and the industry it sits in, purposeful. She is passionate about engaging the public in dialogue around topical societal issues to find solutions for better living. She is currently reading for her Master’s degree at UKZN.

Ntshadi Mofokeng is a cultural worker concerned with and inspired by dance. She started her career in education advocacy with Equal Education, after attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College. She is currently collaborating on a presentation tackling the questions and observations that arose during a writing project Partnered with the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative’s My Body My Space Public Arts Festival 2021

Kivithra Naicker is a theatre-maker, artist, writer, and teacher currently based in Seoul, South Korea. Originally from Durban (KZN), Naicker’s artistic practice and continued academic research sit between the exploration and interrogation of the South African Indian female identity and its deconstruction through the medium of performance.