Yuki’s report from South Africa

The company arrived back in the U.K. from their rehearsals with Vuyani on new work ‘7 Pillars’ only just in time for Xmas on 23rd December. We plan to tour the piece, themed around ‘freedom’ and celebrating the sister city relationship between Birmingham and Johannesburg, later in 2014.

For now, here’s some thoughts from back in the rehearsal room from ACE dancer Yukiko Masui…

South Africa has been very inspiring since we arrived. As Mandela passed away a couple of days before our arrival. I was feeling blessed and thought this trip was going to leave me a huge remark in my life.

When our flight landed Johannesburg airport, 10-15 young passengers started to sing on the plane. That was amazing and made me realise how much music is in their culture.

First day in the studio with Vuyani Dance Theatre. In the morning, we had a very physical and fast pace contemporary and Afro fusion class. I really enjoyed the different types of movement vocabularies which were technically demanding exercises to rhythmical grounded African movements. Also having 5-6 musicians in the studio to play was giving us more energy to dance fully. After the class, the Vuyani dancers showed us what they were going to perform the next day at Mandela’s memorial event. I was blown away by their dance and sing. I thought I’d better work hard and at the same time, I was so excited to dance with them. Everyone was welcoming us and instantly I felt comfortable being the studio with them.

Next day, We went to see Mandela’s memorial event at State Theatre. First, I felt out of place as I was a complete foreigner there, however, as soon as the show started I felt I was a part of it and the entire theatre was together. I have to say, Vuyani’s performance was one of the highlights of the event. They gave me goose bumps and made me think how much dance can reach to people’s heart. I was so grateful to be there and share these moments.

Creative process. We’ve been discussing about what freedom means to us and creating materials task given by Luyanda. Freedom is a big subject, artists from South Africa are sharing their experience and opinions about the situation in South Africa. Not only I try to understand and absorb as much as I could what they’ve been going through, but link with my own experiences to find real feeling and understanding of FREEDOM.

Dancers were split into 3 groups and our group is working on culture and respect. We made gestural movements on different ways of greeting people by different culture. Luyanda has been telling us how subtle movements can be so powerful if you do it with a real intention. After these processes, he started to put the materials and 3 groups together as well as the music.

I’m looking forward to where this research will take us to the end of the week. How far we can deepen our understanding of freedom and to embody that. I would like to go further physically and mentally this week. Let’s see what comes out!