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Boyzie Cekwana
The Floating Outfit Project with “Ja’nee & Rona”

Feb 2-5, 2006

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    About Boyzie Cekwana

    About Boyzie Cekwana

    Company history

    Initiated as an informal collaborative in 1996, The Floating Outfit Project formalized into a dynamic, groundbreaking African Dance Theatre troupe in 1997. The collaborative, although based in Durban, S.A., is structured to be a loose, rootless entity able to move, work, play anywhere in the world.

    The collaborative has only 2 permanent members and their chief thrust is to engage in collaborative projects with artists and non-artists. To date, this vision has yielded collaborations with varied artists and Dance Companies such as The Fantastic Flying Fish , Durban, La Camionetta, Montpellier, France, Davis Freeman-Random Scream, Brussels, Belgium, Eager Artists Theatre Company, Durban and Gladys Agulhas’ ATW, Johannesburg. The floating members of the collaborative continue to engage in projects with individual artists from around South Africa, Sweden, Kinshasa, Maputo, Toronto, Denmark and France, among others. In 1999 the company won the First Prize at the 3rd African and Indian Ocean Choreography Competition in Madagascar, for its signature work Rona, which marked the arrival of this groundbreaking troupe onto the international stage. Like most African performing arts entities, The Floating Outfit Project (FOP) has no permanent institutional, or Government funding, but generates its own funds through touring.

    The collaborative has successfully toured Ja’nee, Rona and Cut!! These works have over the past 8 years, been presented all over Africa as well as in Western Europe in addition to the current touring dates in North and upcoming Central America in 2006.

    "Cut!!" (Episode 1), the Company’s latest work, is a collaboration with acclaimed South African musicians, Madala Kunene and Sibusiso Mndaweni which was premièred at the FNB Dance Umbrella Festival (Johannesburg) in March 2005 before its World Première in Paris, France (May 2005) and successive European and Indian Ocean touring.

    Ntsikelelo "Boyzie" Cekwana

    Soweto born, Boyzie started his dance training with Carly Dibakoane in Meadowlands and furthered it with a 3-year scholarship at the Johannesburg Dance Foundation. At 18, he co-founded the Soweto Dance Theatre and later was appointed Resident choreographer with the now defunct Playhouse Dance Company: this was the first such appointment for an African choreographer in the history of the Performing Arts Councils in South Africa.

    He was awarded several prestigious prizes as a dancer, choreographer in South Africa, Finland as well as in Madagascar, at the 3rd African and Indian Ocean Choreography Competition for his Company’s (The Floating Outfit Project) signature work, Rona. His choreography is in the repertoire of international companies such as the Scottish Dance Theatre and The Washington Ballet, a joint commission with The Kennedy Center for the African Odyssey Festival (1997). He has been invited to create a work for the successful French literature series Les Fables à la Fontaine which has toured Europe extensively in 2005 and is one of the initiators of the South-South think tank working to promote artists and circulate their work within the Southern Hemisphere.

    He has also been invited to present papers at International conferences in the USA (Inroads Africa, New York), South Africa as well as in Europe and has taught dance classes all over Europe and in South Africa. He collaborates extensively with artists in South Africa and abroad such as American/Belgian artist Davis Freeman and Jerry Pooe/Eager Artists. Boyzie has recently been appointed Artistic Director of Jomba! Festival Contemporary Dance in Durban, South Africa.

    About the work by Boyzie Cekwana

    I am beginning to suspect I have lost my sense of humor and perhaps more critically, my sense of objective irony. Increasingly I am drawn to respond to the realities of the ordinary struggles and small triumphs of people around me. It is from this
    background that I have chosen to construct this work. A lot of unanswered questions about what it is about, who it is for, what it represents and in which context it is located still plague me.

    I do however, know what it is not; it is not about art, nor is it about entertainment. At most, it is a commentary on a prevalent social paradigm in a changing, contemporary society. In collaboration with actors, I have tried to bring forth/unearth the dichotomy between an ancient culture clashing with one that is more modern, urban and largely of Western influence. Through praise singing, itself a timeworn art, we trace through the skeleton of the bastion of male dominance in our cultures. Such dominance is intrinsic in the development and spreading of a pandemic threatening to decimate generations of Africans. The young people, in particular.

    I have also chosen to employ the symbolic use of gumboots, which are a strong symbol of exploitative, mass, cheap labor. In this I was to illustrate a more potent source of depravation, abuse in urban Southern Africa mining. Whether it is mining for gold, coal or diamonds, this is a cesspool of male exploitation and a source of prevalence for the HIV virus.

    I am hoping to express a sentiment and not to preach. I also had to make a choice in the use of spoken language. On the one hand, that choice was between making sense to a non-African language speaking audience and risk losing the force and energy of the language. On the other, it is about capturing the import and dynamic of the indigenous language and therefore, risking losing the audience. I have chosen the latter.


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