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Requiem: The Journey (Part Two)

Part Two: Return To Cape Town by Choreographer Dane Hurst

Our upcoming production of Requiem with fellow Leeds-based Phoenix Dance Theatre sees two nations unite as we collaborate with South African partner companies Jazzart Dance Theatre and Cape Town Opera to deliver an extraordinary cross-cultural performance. In a unique series of blog posts we will be exploring the inspiration behind the choreography and shining a light on the production’s deeply rooted South African connections and cultural influence.

In the second installment of the Requiem: The Journey blog series, Choreographer Dane Hurst fills us in on the next stages of his creative process, introduces our collaborative partner Jazzart Dance Theatre and shares with us the first look at the Jazzart dancers in the studio.

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“After a fruitful creative period working with the Phoenix dancers in Leeds, I’ve since returned to South Africa to continue the creative process with the Jazzart Dance Theatre dancers in Cape Town. Originally, the first choreographic movements and sequences were workshopped and created with Jazzart. I shared these video clips of early sketches with Phoenix Artistic Deputy (Studio), Mbulelo Ndabeni, to rehearse ahead of my arrival in Leeds. Reciprocally, after the creative process with Phoenix in the winter, we sent videos to guest Rehearsal Director Nkosinathi Sangweni to work on with the Jazzart dancers ahead of my return to Cape Town.

“Since being back with Jazzart we’ve looked at and re-shaped certain movements of the Requiem. It’s interesting to experience the same choreographic work performed differently as it causes you to re-evaluate the power or impact of the work. The dance is still very much evolving and in creation, meaning it is not yet set in stone. It is a living, breathing work of art that vibrates with a different resonance with different bodies, so I’ve spent some time adjusting and re-working some sections which has added some additional layers to the work.

Choreographer Dane Hurst in rehearsal for Requiem © Point of View Photography

“The creation of After Tears, the companion piece set to Neo Muyanga‘s new composition, is now rapidly developing. Creating any work of art always comes with periods of empty space and you have to wait for a divine spark to fuel the creative fires. Now we are back in the studio together those flames can be fuelled. We are due to be sharing videos of our latest creative process with the Phoenix dancers soon so they can learn and absorb the new material ahead of us travelling to Leeds and coming together for the first time at the end of the month. The work will truly take shape once everyone is in the same room for the first time, with all the singers, set design and creative/technical team. So far, we’ve all worked mostly remotely, so it will be good for all to be in one room where we can come together, make magic, and truly bring the work to life.

“It is a special time for Jazzart to be involved in this international production with all the collaborative partners as the organisation celebrates its 50th anniversary, having been founded in 1973. Like Phoenix, Jazzart is one of the oldest contemporary dance companies in the country and has a specific focus on creating equal opportunities for learning and celebrating diversity and culture through performance. We look forward to this cross-cultural production being a platform upon which to build for the future to create more works of art. Collaboration and partnership is what allows us to celebrate and elevate our shared experiences and history and that ultimately allows for a rich and expansive arts and culture landscape.”

Dane Hurst, Artistic Director, Jazzart Dance Theatre

Requiem opens at Leeds Grand Theatre on Friday 26 May 2023, with further performances until Sunday 4 June.

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Header image © Robyn Walker
Video by Ryan Scheltema with Jazzart Dance Theatre


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