Iona’s ‘Artist in Residence’ Diary: Week 1 at the Flatfoot Dance Company in South Africa

Time flies when you’re having fun! And this is especially true for ACE dance and music’s Education Officer, Iona Waite, who is currently enjoying a month-long visit to Durban in South Africa as an Artist in Residence at Flatfoot Dance Company.

Iona has already achieved and experienced so much in her first week working with the Flatfoot Dance Company, which is part of an on-going collaboration with ACE dance and music and made possible after Iona was accepted onto the BBC’s Performing Arts Fund Alumni Scheme 2015. The BBC Performing Arts Fund is a charity committed to developing new performing arts talent, such as Iona, from across the UK.

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Read Iona’s diary about what she has experienced so far in her first week in Durban…

“Wow one week has gone in Durban already… How time flies! It has been a GREAT week so far and I have experienced so much in such a short space of time.

“Each morning I have taken part in company class with Flatfoot. We have  had a mixture of classes such as contemporary, ballet and Afro-fusion. It has been great to be in the studio and dancing on a daily basis, learning, improving and broadening my artistic skills.

“The class that I enjoyed the most this week was the Afro-fusion class which was taught by one of Flatfoot company members Kumalo Sufiso. I found the Afro-fusion technique very exciting as it was a new way of moving. It was also challenging at times as some of the steps were very complex. I look forward to exploring this style further throughout my visit and gaining a deeper of understanding of the technique.

Disabled school workshoporphanage workshopphotoshoot on beach

“In the afternoons, the Flatfoot company dancers deliver dance education workshops to a range of different schools and organisations across Kwazulu Natal. This week I visited an orphanage and a school for disabled children. My visit to the orphanage was very overwhelming. There were roughly 20 children between the age of 5-13 who live in the orphanage for many different reasons. Flatfoot have been working with the children at the orphanage for 6 months so it is a very new project. Each week the children meet and work for 2 hours with the Flatfoot dancers. At the moment they are working towards a performance which will be held in March. The children love the dance sessions and are very inspired by their teachers. To see the children’s joy and happiness in the dance sessions despite their living conditions, such as not having access to basic sanitation like clean running water was a HUGE eyes opener for me. It has really made me think about my life and how blessed I am.

“Similar to ACE’s ethos, Flatfoot’s work with children and young people is an integral part of the organisation and is at the heart of what they do. On Saturday I taught Flatfoot’s ADD Group who are the youth arm of Flatfoot, similar to ACE Youth. What I found interesting in the group was the ratio of boys to girls. There are 11 boys and 3 girls engaged in the ADD programme. The ADD group had great energy and really enjoyed working in a new way.

“Over the next two weeks I am hoping to develop a small piece of work with the ADD group. Next week I will continue to work in the studio developing the new work, which we will perform at the NZSA art gallery on the 19th February. I will also be visiting 3 other schools which I am looking forward too…

“Week two here I come!”

For more updates, follow Iona’s time in South Africa on Instagram @ionas_bbc_travels