Who knew that student dancers would be able to stage a performance as good if not better than some professional dance companies in South Africa? It would have been quite normal to expect a no-more-than-average show from Born Frees, but under the guidance and intense training of Celeste Botha and Marlin Zoutman from New World Dance Theatre, these students of dance schools around Cape Town blew all expectations out of the water.
Despite advanced choreography, with movements that really challenged the dancers to push themselves, the young dancers performed with a mature stage presence and a high technical standard. Experienced and acclaimed South African choreographers Celeste Botha and Marlin Zoutman have moulded their students thoroughly and carefully, and as a result were able to choreograph beautiful movements on the dancers. This was a showcase of pure contemporary style which highlighted the importance of rigorous technical training, precise release technique and strong floor work.
Unusual to pure contemporary style there was a distinct African rhythm to the choreography in terms of both music and movement, firmly grounding the show geographically. As particular rhythms surfaced so did individual personalities, underlining the title of Born Frees and making the appreciative audience go wild. It seemed many of those dancers were not only born free, but were born for the stage.
In a refreshing move away from the typically segmented variety show, each section flowed into the next with swift transitions as if it was one single performance. The attention to detail shone too in the variety of chic costumes enhancing the bodies of all 120 students, and in the full use of the stage which was occasionally extended to twice its depth by raising the backdrop. All these single aspects add up to a quality performance by the dance schools of Cape Town.
All of the dancers on stage possessed an incredible dance facility, but the highlight of the evening was the section with an all male cast for which the choreography really pushed the boundaries of physicality. Those young men screamed pure talent.
With the support of the National Arts Council, the Western Cape Education Department and the Artscape Theatre these exciting upcoming dancers have been able to have a taste of a professional dance performance, and perhaps (we hope) even a career. More than that, they have also set the standard of dance in schools around the Western Cape. And they have set it extremely high.
New World Dance Theatre’s Born Frees was performed at the Artscape Theatre on 25 July 2014.