We, as a long standing partner of the Dance Umbrella Festival and an active supporter of dance and performance projects, are very happy that this successful Workshop continues to bring together young arts writers and established critics with dancers and choreographers,” said Dr. Norbert Spitz, Regional Director, South Africa & Sub Saharan Africa, Goethe-Institut Johannesburg.
The 2015 Dance Writer’s workshop which will take place on February 13 and 14; February 20 and 21 February and on March 2 is once again facilitated by Mary Corrigall. The five intensive sessions are designed to encourage new and/or existing arts writers to turn their attention to contemporary dance and give them the tools to confidently critique and engage with it in the mainstream mass media.
The topic of the Workshop is ‘Choreographing Gender’. Corrigall explains: “the participants will be given an introduction to the politics of choreographing difference and gender-based cultural critique.” The workshop will address the role of African tradition in patriarchy, the construction and deconstruction of male identity through dance and the role of dress and costume. Leading figures from the dance world, such as Nelisiwe Xaba, Thabiso Pule and Constanza Macras will be guests at the workshops, imparting their ideas and responses to the topic and how their works have engaged with them.
The selected participants include Stefani Jason, Layla Leiman and Same Mdluli. An exciting addition to this year’s workshop is the establishment of the Dance Umbrella Gazette, which was conceived by Corrigall. This four-page publication will be distributed freely to the audience at the Dance Umbrella and will present the work of the workshop participants. “I wanted to create another platform for dance writing that would be immediately accessible to audiences already with an interest in dance. The gazette will be a wonderful vehicle to promote new writers, acknowledge the work and contribution of established writers as well as the works at the festival.” Corrigall, a cultural commentator, critic, researcher and historian, is also the senior feature writer and arts critic at The Sunday Independent and the founder and head of the South African Arts Writers and Critics Association (SAAWCA). She is a research associate at the Centre for Visual Identities in Art and Design at the University of Johannesburg. She has received recognition and accolades for her work: 2007 CNN African Journalism award; the 2009 Thomas Pringle Award for Reviews and the Lorenzo Natali Award for Journalism, awarded by the European Commission.
Dance Umbrella 2015 extends a thank you to its many partners, without whom the festival would not have been presented: the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, (the principal funder) the Goethe Institut Johannesburg, National Arts Council and Rand Merchant Bank who both assisted with the Dance XChange and/or Dance Space Residency Programme 2014. Other partners include French Institut of South Africa, MOAD Gallery, Embassy of Israel, South Africa, the National Arts Festival, City of Johannesburg, Oupoks Projects and Services, Capital National Arts Council and The A(r)tchive.