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Rudi van der Merwe | Research Trip

South Africa | Dance

March 2020 — Dance

Rudi van der Merwe

6-20 March 2020

Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative

Artist website

South African born, Geneva based performance artist Rudi van der Merwe will spend two weeks at the Ebhudlweni Arts Centre in rural Mpumalanga working with the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative (FATC) dancers. During this research trip Rudi will be reworking his piece Blue Moves, originally created in 2018 at the ADC in Geneva.

Blue Moves was conceptualised as a choreographic “road movie” through a dystopian landscape transformed by climate change and the devastation of the Anthropocene. Set to a score of blues songs, the piece looked to express a sense of ‘Solastagia’, a neologism from the writing of English philosopher Timothy Morton describing a form of mental or existential distress caused by extreme environmental change. When presented to Swiss audiences however, the historical context of blues music overrode the environmental narrative, resulting in the piece being largely misinterpreted.

Rudi met FATC director PJ Sabbagha in 2019 at the My Body My Space festival where he was performing his piece Lovers, Dogs and Rainbows. “I felt very inspired by the idea of a rural training programme since I grew up in the far-flung Northern Cape myself”, Rudi explains. “While there, the idea started taking shape to rework Blue Moves with a South African cast. In South Africa, race matters. When working with a subject like blues music, race equally matters. Being South African, the only place where I feel I have a grasp of the historical complexities around this issue, is South Africa. Race(ism) is not the focus of Blue Moves, but since it is indelibly part of the project, South Africa is also the appropriate place for me in which to (re)create this work. FATC, given its approach and ethos, is the right context in which to be both creative and aware.”

Rudi will be accompanied by Geneva-based dancer and choreographer József Trefeli, one of the original cast members of Blue Moves who originated and developed a substantial part of the choreographic material in the piece. For this reworking, Rudi will step back from performing himself and invite critique and feedback from FATC performers to allow for greater clarity in terms of the stories being told on stage.