Shift

Les Brigittines

12, 15, 16, 17/05 > 20:00
13/05 > 18:00
Duration: 45’

Born in Soweto, Boyzie grew up in the townships of Johannesburg, South Africa. For him, dance delineates the path of dignity and nobleness to which every human being aspires. First a dancer, then a choreographer, Boyzie worked and taught in Johannesburg, choreographing in his own country before being invited to Europe and the United States. In 1997, with two other dancer friends, he formed The Floating Outfit Project (FOP), a small, flexible group enabling them to concentrate on their objective of adopting sensitivity and movement to communicate with their souls. A very spiritual person, Boyzie does not follow any particular fashion. After the serenity found within Rona, Shift, FOP’s third creation, confronts the new South Africa and the effects now being felt after centuries of hatred and destruction.


Chorégraphie/Choreografie/Choreography: Ntsikelelo “Boyzie” Cekwana

Performance/Performers: Boyzie Cekwana, Desire Davids, Thabani Sibisi

Musique/Muziek/Music: Bobby McFerrin, The Brodsky Quartet, Jan Garbarek, Einsturzende Neubauten, cEvin Key, Skinny Puppy, Download

Eclairages et décor/Lichtontwerp en decor/Lighting and set design: Ntsikelelo “Boyzie” Cekwana

Création sonore/Klankontwerp/Sound design: Max Katz

Costumes/Kostuums/Costumes: Ntsikelelo “Boyzie” Cekwana, Desire Davids

Régisseur de scène/Toneelmeester/Stage manager: Mashudu Nemukula

Eclairages et directeur technique/Belichting en technisch directeur/Lighting and technical director: Frederick Duplech

Photographie/Fotografie/Photography: Val Adamson

The Floating Outfit Project:

Directeur artistique/Artistiek directeur/Artistic director: Ntsikelelo “Boyzie” Cekwana

Directeur adjoint/Adjunct directeur/Associate director: Desire Davids

Responsable diffusion/Verantwoordelijke spreiding/Person-in-charge of diffusion: Therese Barbanel

Régisseur de scène/Toneelmeester/Stage manager: Mashudu Nemukula

Eclairages et directeur technique/Belichting en technisch directeur/Lighting and technical director: Frederick Duplech

Avec le soutien de/Met de steun van/Supported by: Afrique en Créations (F), FNB VITA Dance Umbrella (SA), La Ferme du Buisson (Marne-la-Vallée), The National Arts Council (SA), Simon Dove, Spring Dance Festival (Utrecht)

Présentation/Presentatie/Presentation: Bellone-Brigittines, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Cette création est dédiée à Nondyebo, mère de Boyzie Cekwana

Dit werk is opgedragen aan Nondyebo, Boyzie Cekwana’s moeder.

This work is dedicated to Nondyebo, Boyzie Cekwana’s mother.

Back to top

The primary essence of my work is the quest for communication with the soul, our souls, and to confront the oftentimes overwhelming awareness of the vulnerability and nakedness of our spirit when we invite others into the very heart of our thoughts. Despite the doubts tormenting us, this awareness is the sparkle that defines the choices we make. The process of creation in the context of a transitional and constantly mutating society like South Africa can be daunting and testing of one’s faith and stamina.

This journey that we are on, sometimes with great difficulty, attempts to explore the prism of our daily life, the ordinary madness we face each day, the labyrinth of our contradictions exacerbated by our inability to communicate, in the hope that a light may be illuminated in place of complacency and ignorance. One is perpetually trying to overcome the humiliating stereotypical notions inflicted upon us. A missionary of the modern times I am not, that would be too much of a responsibility and an affront to my ancestors. However, I choose to adopt sensitivity and movement to express what sounds, to my soul at least, like the beat and lifeblood of my Africa.

Ntsikelelo ‘Boyzie’ Cekwana, My soul remembers, Working notes

Ntsikelelo Cekwana, known as Boyzie, was born in and raised in Soweto. He was a teenager during the worst years of the struggle. “In 1985 and 1986, there was no schooling going on in the townships because of the riots. I played a lot of football, did some yoga. A friend of mine told me that a man was starting a dance school in Soweto and was looking for boys. I thought my friend was talking about ballroom dancing, you know. I didn’t know anything about ballet or so-called modern dance. My friend persuaded me to go, so I went to have a look. I immediately had the conviction inside me that dance would be the path I would take – it filled me with an intense strength. Five months later, the Johannesburg Dance Foundation opened and began giving basic classes in contemporary ballet and modern jazz. I passed the audition and got a scholarship for three years.”

Seven years later, Boyzie was appointed resident choreographer at Durban’s Playhouse Dance Company. In 1994 he received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award in Johannesburg. In 1995 he won joint first prize at the Third International Ballet and Choreography Competition in Helsinki. Hailed as South Africa’s child prodigy, his pieces have been included in the repertory of the Washington Ballet and Neville’s Company (Scottish Dance Theatre). He works from New York to Cape Town, from Grahamstown to Basle, from Madagascar to Lille, ending up last summer at Montpellier Danse where he performed Rona, his latest work.

In 1997, with fellow dancer Desire Davids, he founded a small flexible group of dancers called The Floating Outfit Project. “We needed to break with the restricting formats of traditional South African dance and ballet companies. So the idea was to form a floating entity that would have no set base, no permanent dancers and a loose structure without form that would allow us to work with anyone, anywhere in the world, whilst enabling us still to work on our own creations. There were also financial reasons for this – a small independent company can’t survive in South Africa, and it’s more realistic to continue on our separate journeys so that we can then come back and invest any money we make into our joint project.”

Their joint project is to create dance productions that they consider contemporary. “In South Africa, as in most African countries, dance is a part of our lives. People will sing and dance when they are sad or happy. Dance is present in all our rites and customs, like the air we breathe – it is the first instinct of spontaneous impulse. The difference between, say, a township dance and what I would put on stage is that while all of these pay attention to theatrical senses of performance and presentation, our ‘stage’ forms are far more studied and contrived, and thus less improvised.”

“As a young African man born in a turbulent country like South Africa, there were too many experiences of complete helplessness, despair and loss of faith. The country I was born in was ruled by Calvinists who justified apartheid with a religion that taught them their race was superior to others and God chose them over everyone else. As teenagers, we had constant problems with the state, too many guns, unlawful arrests and shootings. We would be in school, then suddenly someone would look out the window and see police cars everywhere. There would be panic, shouting and we would run away. Around the same time, at a youth congregation I went to, I was struck by the words of a song we were singing: ‘Be still and know that I am Lord’. This song profoundly affected me... I thought, ‘It’s true. Why are we panicking? What’s the point? I’ve spent my life running and so far nothing’s happened to me! I swore that I wouldn’t panic anymore. Panic is a loss of faith, a loss of the ability to take control of your situation. It’s the moment when we give away our power. Stillness is the regaining of faith, of power and trust in the truth of our purpose. Panic is a moment. Stillness is a lifetime.”

“It is a great shame there are still those whose faith is fuelled by fear, prejudice and guilt The world is moving on, so must we. We must not forget, nor should we necessarily forgive, but we must move on, please. Take every opportunity to break the cycles of hate and destruction.”

“My parents always followed their traditions and Xhosa culture and I have always aspired to identify with a particular aspect of my culture – strength and humility. My mother is a great symbol of this. It is a great mountain to climb and I am very far from the summit. But while it is very important for me as an artist to pay homage and respect to my heritage, I don’t feel the need to reaffirm my African-ness by doing or saying, or looking like an African – supposedly – does. I’m that man already. I don’t want to be labelled ‘African’. African is what I am. What we look for is what we were born to find, and nobleness and dignity are a great part of what defines us.”.

Rona (1999) set in motion three sculpted beings, starting in silence, with shaven heads and bodies painted ritualistically in white. It is a kind of African Butoh, giving off spiritual harmony to the world, to itself, to nature, a quest stripped to its essence, an initiation full of immanence.

Shift, Boyzie’s latest project, explores another silence altogether. “Too little is said about the dynamics of fear and power that influence and inform the politics of our race, gender, violence, human rights, love and prejudices. In South Africa there is perhaps far too much silence surrounding some of these issues and that is a problem in itself. I’m not attempting to explore the power of stillness in this work, I want to explode it. The new South Africa is displaying a ‘new’ South African psyche in response to crime (petty or organised), combined with the perpetual stereotypical demonisation of African males as being a constant threat and menace to society. This production seeks to examine and challenge the shifts, or lack thereof, in the context of contemporary South Africa.”

‘Shift’ does not just mean change or move – it also evokes the displacement of a person or an object, a gap or change in position. “We are also investigating the notion of reverse racism in a country colonised twenty generations ago and the complex effects of that colonisation. This creation is much more about topical and pertinent issues in South Africa, exploring issues that range from rape, war and crime to racism and religion. It is not attempting to tell a linear and concrete story. In taking a more lateral route through images, movement, music and the written and spoken text, I am hoping that our exploration will have some kind of subliminal effect.”

Back to top