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The Baxter Dance Festival, the Western Cape’s premier dance platform, returns to the Baxter for its 14th annual instalment with 32 works by 54 choreographers being performed over 10 days, from Thursday 4 October until Saturday 13 October 2018. Opening this year’s festival is Rolex Mentor and Protégé Laureate (2004) Junaid Jemal Sendi and Addisu Demissie Kifle from Destino Dance Company based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Sendi and Kifle will kick off the festival with Ene Man Negn (Who am I), a duet about identity, choices and fate, as well as A Holding Space, a duet by London-based choreographers Russell Meliphant and Adam Benjamin that highlights the themes of trust and a dialogue between two people who share the same space and history. The opening night programme will also include a short film about the process of creating A Holding Space. The two performers share a powerful history as youth from disadvantaged backgrounds, who found their way to the Saddler’s Well stage, with the guidance of Dance United in Ethiopia. The Baxter Dance Festival will therefore, start with a powerful message about how dance can be a positive catalyst in the lives of young dancers.

This year, some past festival favourites return with fresh compositions. Companies such as Jazzart Dance Theatre, New World Dance Theatre, Cape Dance Company, Arms & Length Dance Company, Dance for All and Darkroom Contemporary, each with their unique style, are back to showcase their work in a succinct and curated programme, focussing on the best that dance in the Western Cape has to offer and the new talent coming through the ranks.

The 2018 Baxter Dance Festival consists of the Main Programme, which will include invited and commissioned works by CAN Creative’s Nathan Bartman and Ciara Baldwin. Work by recognised professional choreographers and companies will also be showcased and will runs for the duration of the festival. The Off-Main Programme, on Saturday, 6 October, will showcase work by up-and-coming choreographers (including student work), and the Fringe Programme on Saturday, 13 October, will include work by youth groups, dance schools, school groups, traditional dance groups and others.

This year the Baxter’s commissioned work was chosen from applications received. Nathan Bartman and Ciara Baldwin of CAN Creative, a dance company devised by the two, that explores original topics and expresses them through dance, physicality, music and the spoken word – always striving to create a positive message and trying to capture the beauty and power of it. Nathan began his dance career as a street and hip hop dancer in Eersterivier, Cape Town. This is where his love of dance and desire for formal training began. After spending two years at Dance For All’s Bridging Programme, Nathan was awarded a three-year scholarship to train at the Cape Academy of Performing Arts. Ciara also discovered her passion for dance and performance at a very early age. She successfully completed her Diploma in Modern Jazz Dance Teaching in 2012 with the Association of International Dance Teachers, Cape Town and went on to do a three-year performing arts course at the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA), graduating with a Diploma with Distinction in Performing Arts, majoring in Dance, in 2015.

Joining the programme for this year’s festival is Eastern Cape-born, London-based dancer, Mbulelo Ndabeni. Ndabeni trained at Dance for All, UCT School of Dance, San Francisco Academy of Ballet, and London Studio Centre. Before moving to the UK in 2007, he worked for Cape Town City Ballet. He has performed in and toured with works such as Tread Softly, Comedy of Change, Eternal Light, Four Elements and Roses. Ndabeni’s work has been described as “unique in his mastery of both balletic and Africanist movement” and is a definite not-to- be missed feature on this year’s line-up.

As the largest and most established dance event of its kind in the Western Cape, the Baxter Dance Festival, with dynamic and diverse programme, is a must-see platform for all dance-enthusiasts. Since its inception in 2004 the festival has showcased over 4000 dancers from more than 400 studios. Notwithstanding its limited funding, the festival continues to grow significantly each year, making it the ideal festival to experience the diversity and enormous dance talent in the province.

Creating opportunities for emergent and established dance companies and choreographers, the Baxter Dance Festival continues to nurture and promote the varied dance talent in the Western Cape. The festival is the ideal environment to experience and see dance as it focuses on the endorsement and development of the art form in the Western Cape.

“Each year, the growing number of applications reminds me of the need to support, encourage and advocate for dance in the Western Cape and surrounding areas. There is a strong local dance community in the city, province and beyond and the Baxter Dance Festival, being the only platform of this kind, is therefore an integral part of promoting this art form,” says Nicolette Moses, artistic director of the Baxter Dance Festival and also associate producer and planning manager at the Baxter Theatre Centre.

“As encouraging as the support from the dance community is, so too is the support of our sponsor Tsogo Sun. They understand their role in assisting to shape the lives of aspiring dancers and also recognise the impact that this particular festival has on the local dance landscape. As such, we encourage the support of sponsors from the private and public sectors to join us in growing what is the largest dance event in our province.”

The Baxter Dance Festival opens on Thursday, 4 October and runs until Saturday, 13 October at 20:00 nightly. The Main programme runs throughout, the Off Main programme runs from 17:00 on Saturday 6 October and the Fringe Programme starts at 13:00 on Saturday 13 October.

Booking for the 2018 Baxter Dance Festival is through Webtickets, online at www.webtickets.co.za or at selected Pick n Pay stores. For discounted school or group block bookings, fundraisers or charities contact Sharon Ward on 021 680 3962 or email sharon.ward@uct.ac.za or Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or email her at carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za.

The full programme can be viewed on http://www.baxter.co.za/shows/baxter-dance-festival-2018/

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