Flatfoot Dance Company

Photography by Val Adamson

Community Engagement & Education

FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY has twenty-five years of KZN dance education and community engagement work behind its name. We work with about 900 children and youth (both urban and rural ranging from 6 to 23yrs) per year in our city of Durban/eThekwini and our province of KZN.

We work with the philosophy and methodology first articulated by educational expert Paulo Freire. This Brazilian born revolutionary spoke about education that could ‘change the world, one person at a time’. His idea of “liberation education” (Freire, P. 1970. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London: Penguin) was primarily about allowing systems of learning that not only educate but which also liberate, allowing for self-expression and self-realisation. We, at FLATFOOT, have understood dance and arts education (within a South African context) to be the ideal methodology for teaching life skills and for teaching youth the value of discipline, self-study and of working within the constraints of the concept of “community”. Our methods of working have proved themselves in effective (and documented) programmes that have, twenty-five years on, begun to change the lives of the young people we work with - in both rural and urban settings.

We are especially mindful of working in communities that often lack sustained access to arts education and learning. We step in, often in very good partnerships with local schools, to run dance programmes in the afternoons (after school) or weekends that allow learners to freely choose to participate and commit. On the most basic level these programmes offer recreation, and on the deeper more sustained level, the learners who participate get to experience community, learn group skills and are offered a learning environment where – we hope and aim – their humanity is fully realised.

We run classes over the school calendar year and twice a year our work culminates in a localised concert or performance. Our process of working offers a celebration of the transformative power of dance and the arts. Our mandate sits alongside the national South African agenda of using arts and culture learning and education to forge social cohesion and create what we at FLATFOOT like to call ‘living democracy’ in action.

Our Township dance programmes include:

  • Project DUDLU NTOMBI (Umlazi)
  • Project HHESHE NSIZWA (Umlazi)
  • Waterloo Dance Programme (Waterloo)

Our Rural Dance Programme

In 2012, FLATFOOT was delighted to make a unique partnership with SeaFrog Communications who facilitated the start-up of our rural Tugela River Mouth Dance Programme. Tugela Mouth is located about 1h30mins outside of Durban and is a peri-urban/rural community where very little arts education and development is happening in the schools and the community. FLATFOOT run a once-a-month weekend dance programme.

ADD Flatfoot

In 2013 FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY started a new programme called “ADD FLATFOOT” (Advanced Dance Development). This programme identified 15 of the older youth, primarily from our KwaMashu and Newlands programmes and is offering an intensive skills training programme around dance performance. We saw these 15 young dancers (age 15 – 21yrs) as the next generation of professional dancers in KZN (and for FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY, as has proved the case). These 15 youth come to the FLATFOOT studio each Saturday for 5 hours of intensive training. This is a direct job and skills creation programme for these township youth.

Junior ADD Flatfoot

In 2017, FLATFOOT began our pilot run-on project called “JUNIOR ADD” where we identified 12 young female dances (aged 9 – 15yrs) from KwaMashu, Umlazi, Newlands and Waterloo. This junior ADD programme works on the same principle as the ADD programme but aims to promote the development of the township girl-child towards sustainable arts career pathing. We have notice that many of the girls drop out of the training around the age of 12 and 13 and so wanted to offer an incentive to keep these young women in the dance programme. We see this as also addressing an identified gender gap in the dance and arts industry in our province and country. The pilot has led to a full-time programme with an annual intake of 10 - 12 girls each year.