Local dance mavericks Mophato Dance Theater have collaborated with Kyla Smith; violinist from the South African group Freshlyground and the Standard Bank Young Artist Award recipient Luyanda Sidiya in a new project inspired by the late writer, Bessie Head’s book titled Maru.
The untitled dance project is currently in its development stage and dates as to when it will be ready for public viewing have not been disclosed. “We are still in the research stage of this project. The dance project though is inspired by Bessie Head’s Maru and the story of Basarwa as depicted in the book. I read the book and thereafter I approached South African Writer Zakes Mda for his take on Bessie Head’s work so one could say the two views as well as our research findings will somewhat make the backdrop of this dance story,” expressed Kyla who is the brain child of the project. She adds, “A few years ago I developed some music but could not find a story for it, but now after careful consideration there is a perfect story that interlinks with the music and luckily there is funding for it.”
Kyla reveals that when looking for people to help bring the story to life she contacted dance choreographer Luyanda Sidiya whom she had previously worked with at the dance group Vuyani years before she joined Freshly ground. Luyanda then connected both of them with Mophato. “I met Andrew Kola in 2009 in Joburg as he was in the same dance company I once was in and over the years we have worked on several projects together such as Mophato’s Kgosi Kgolo, Hayani, and recently at De Beers Shining Lights Awards doing their choreography,” added Luyanda Sidiya.
“When Kyla approached me about this project, Andrew and his Mophato immediately came to mind as I know his work and I felt it would be best to explore the Batswana and Basarwa’s story with them. We don’t no how long this is going to go on for but we are committed to telling the story with all the facts and in a beautiful way.”
Choreographer Luyanda also added that, he realized that the story of Basarwa was a sensitive one but they were not looking at opening wounds but rather at telling a story of a people who are proud of their culture and heritage. He said they had contacted a lecturer at the University of Botswana who was working on a paper about the Basarwa and were currently learning how to express some of the words in the dance project in the San language. “One of the things I have realized about the Basarwa is that they see no hierarchy. They are one with the land and I felt it was important for us to work on this project here in Botswana where the issues we hope to bring out are still relevant. The story will of course be told in a beautiful artistic way that incorporates a lot of movements and music,” said Kyla.