Underground Dance Theatre is a collective of artists who want to explore new performance styles and create progressive, high quality work that is at the meeting point of physical theatre, contemporary dance and dance theatre. The company uses a collaborative choreographic approach to look for original movement and images that deconstruct and redefine the limits of dance in South Africa.
Donald Gordon Creative Arts Award awarded to Kristina Johnstone for the work ‘Fractography’ (2011),
Standard Bank Ovation Award for the production ‘Keepsake Minus 3’ (in collaboration with Nicola Elliott) (2012),
Kyknet Fiesta Award for Best Dance Production for the production ‘Keepsake Minus 3’ (in collaboration with Nicola Elliott) (2013),
Standard Bank Ovation Award for the production ‘PLASTIC’ (2013),
Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award for the work ‘Skoonveld’ (2013),
Kyknet Fiesta Award for Best Dance Production for the work ‘Skoonveld’ (2014),
Arts and Culture Trust Professional Development Grant underwritten by Nedbank Arts Affinity awarded to Steven van Wyk for the production ‘BOK’ (2014),
National Arts Council Grant awarded to Cilna Katzke for the production ‘BOK’ (2014)
National Arts Council Grant awarded to Thalia Laric for the production ‘LoveZero’ (2015)
Kristina Johnstone has worked as a performer, choreographer and teacher in Cape Town, South Africa and Kampala, Uganda. She has a Masters in Dance Studies from the University of Cape Town (2010). In 2007 and 2008, she taught dance at the Kampala Ballet and Modern Dance School and performed with Okulamba Dance Theatre. From 2009 till 2012, she was a part-time lecturer at the UCT School of Dance, and artistic director of the Wilvan School of Dance in 2010 and 2011. Kristina has performed for choreographers like Samantha Pienaar (South Africa), Ariry Andriamoratsiresy (Madagascar), Reuben Orneilas (USA), Tetsuro Fukuhara (Japan) and Hélène Iratchet (France). In 2011, she participated in Crossings, an international workshop led by Michel Kelemenis (France) and Vincent Mantsoe (South Africa/France). She is a founding member of the award-winning Underground Dance Theatre.
Kristina is currently based as a freelance artist in Kampala, Uganda. She lectures part-time at Makerere University’s Department of Performing Arts and Film. She is a co-author for the Platinum Creative Arts textbooks Grades 7-9 published by Maskew Miller Longman, and a contributing author in the book Post-Apartheid Dance: Many Bodies, Many Voices, Many Stories edited by Sharon Friedman and published in 2012.
Thalia Laric holds a BMus Honours degree in Choreography from the University of Cape Town (2010) and is currently completing her Master’s degree in Choreography at Rhodes University Drama Department, with a focus on dance improvisation and performative writing. In 2010 Thalia spent 5 months as an exchange student at the University of North Carolina Dance Department, and in 2011 she moved to Grahamstown to perform full-time with the First Physical Theatre Company, where she also worked as Projects Manager. She has worked with artists Andrew Buckland, Brink Scholtz, Juanita Finestone-Praeg, Alan Parker, Nicola Elliott, Jori Snell and Tossie Van Tonder, and has performed on platforms including the Dance Umbrella Festival, National Arts Festival, Goethe on Main, Detours Festival, Out the Box, and the Dance Transmissions Festival Kampala, Uganda. In 2012 Thalia was invited to the International Contact Improvisation Festival in Freiburg, Germany. In 2013 she presented the paper “Facilitating Improvisation: A Performative Response” at Confluences 7, the biannual dance conference hosted by the UCT School of Dance. At Rhodes University, Thalia is currently responsible for facilitating the first year Movement course, as well as teaching classes in somatics, yoga, contemporary dance and contact improvisation.
Cilna Katzke is a freelance dancer, choreographer and teacher. She holds a BMus in Dance with Distinction (2008), an Honours in Dance Studies with Distinction (2011), and a Masters in Dance by full dissertation with Distinction (2014), all of which she obtained from the University of Cape Town. Cilna’s dance research focuses on the deconstruction of classical ballet as a means to probe the politics of the female body.
As a performer, Cilna has worked as an apprentice for Cape Town City Ballet (2006 – 2008), performing in various productions including Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, CTCB Celebrates 10 Years and The Nutcracker. For two years she also danced professionally for iKapa Dance Theatre (2009 – 2010), after which she entered the freelance dance arena to perform with companies such as Bovim Ballet, Free Flight Dance Company, Darkroom Contemporary and Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre.
As a choreographer Cilna has presented work at the Baxter Dance Festival and the National Arts Festival. In 2012 she choreographed for composer Rexleigh Bunyard for the retrospective exhibition of acclaimed abstract artist Hannatjie Van Der Wat. She also choreographically assisted Jay Pather with the Festival of White Lights held annually at the SPIER wine farm. As a choreographer with Underground Dance Theatre Cilna has received a 2012 Standard Bank Ovation Award and a 2013 Kyknet Fiesta Award for Keepsake Minus 3, produced in collaboration with Nicola Elliott.
Steven van Wyk holds an honours degree in dance studies, a BSocSci in dance and anthropology, and a diploma in musical theatre via the Trinity College of London. Steven has performed the lead role of “Cosmo Brown” in Singin’ in the Rain (2015 – 2016) in New Zealand, Asia and South Africa. Steven was resident director and resident choreographer of the Fugard Theatre’s Rocky Horror Show (2014 – 2015). For the Artscape’s Cape Town season of The Sound of Music (2014), Steven acted as dance captain, swing and ensemble. In Sunset Boulevard (2013-2014), Steven operated as dance captain, swing and performed in the ensemble. In the South African and Asian tours of Dirty Dancing, Steven understudied and played “Neil Kellerman” and “Billy Kostecki” (2012-2013), as well as dancing in the ensemble. Steven had the privilege of playing “Riff” in Jerome Robbin’s West Side Story Suite (2010) for the American Dance Festival in North Carolina. Steven performed for the Cape Dance Company (2010 – 2012) in works such as Christopher Huggins’ Enemy at the Gate and When Dawn Comes. As a soloist with Bovim Ballet (2009 – 2014), Steven has performed in Tango Nights, Swingtime at the Ballet, Romeo’s Kiss and Queen at the Ballet. While studying, Steven was apprenticed to Cape Town City Ballet, performing in productions such as Giselle, Orpheus in the Underworld, Sleeping Beauty and Carmen (2006 – 2009).
Askoop is an indulgent dance-cabaret that reveals the iconic shopping trolley as more than just a wheeled metal structure. With satirical humour and pathos Underground Dance Theatre calls to question ideals of fulfilment and the limits of greed.
Choreographed and directed by Cilna Katzke and Thalia LaricView Work
Cipher is a choreographic investigation, a numbers game, a mathematical code. Yet, subtle nuances of individuality emerge from what appears to be a logical encryption of shapes, patterns and directions. Navigating the tension between order and disorder, form and feeling, the logical and the absurd, Cipher dismantles this code.
Choreographed by Kristina Johnstone and Cilna KatzkeView Work
Mode finds humour and aesthetic inspiration in the formal elements of social dances – from the processional rigidity of court dances, to the frivolity of the salsa. Mode is a dance about dancing, a half-forgotten recollection of dancing in church halls and ballrooms.
Choreographed by Thalia Laric and Steven van WykView Work
In Eyes Closed with Piñata, the third instalment of the Eyes Closed series, the destructive game of beating a piñata is contrasted by the quiet aesthetic of the art gallery.
Conceptualised by Steven van Wyk and Thalia LaricView Work
BOK is a uniquely South African re-imagining of Vaslav Nijinsky’s iconic ballet l’Apres-midi d’un Faune (The Afternoon of a Faun). This ballet, which generated much controversy at its début in 1912 because of its erotic innuendos, is a major landmark in dance history.
Choreographed by Kristina Johnstone, Cilna Katzke and Steven van WykView Work
Once a luxurious tapestry, now a threadbare heirloom, this cherished portrait has often been restored. Weather-beaten and refurbished, treasured then forgotten, Skoonveld is this tapestry – a living still-life, a Voortrekker idyll, a pastoral landscape that paints and repaints the past.Choreographed by Thalia Laric and Steven van WykView Work
With a classical movement vocabulary as its starting point, room explores the spaces between bodies and the room that defines their interaction. As an ‘algorithm’, room functions through a fixed list of well-defined instructions and expects definitive actions. Choreographed by Kristina JohnstoneDirected by Daniel MorcosView Work
In Alter, choreographer Ilona Frege and dancers of Underground Dance Theatre revisit Gregory Maqoma’s Beautiful Me by embarking on a process of unpacking the construction of their identities – as African? As South African? As performing South African identity?Choreographed by Illona FregeView Work
You were meant for me marries contemporary dance and dance theatre to explore ideas of human connection and disconnection. The work uses its heightened theatricality and humour to suggest the trappings, illusions and contradictions of modern media and human interaction.Choreographed and performed by Kristina Johnstone, Cilna Katzke and Steven van WykView Work
Keepsake, in its theme and simplicity of style, is inspired by William Carlos Williams’ poem entitled “This is just to say”. Rachmaninov’s rich turbulent music inspires its understated emotional depth.Choreographed by guest artist Nicola ElliottView Work
Eyes closed with chair and radio is a solo improvisation performance based on the notion of “listening”. Through attention to kinaesthetic awareness, spontaneous movement is discovered as a response to sensation, while a live radio broadcast layers chance meaning through a coincidence of audio and visual signifiers.Conceptualised and performed by Thalia LaricView Work
Underground Dance Theatre envisaged, designed, produced and managed this large-scale event to launch a new dance film created by Gerard Samuel for GIPCA, as well as refresh the public imagination around what the UCT School of Dance stands for. The film focused on South Africans’ notion of tea – so UDT used tea as the central motif for the event, which became a South Africanised mad hatter’s tea party.View Work
The dance film adaptation of Fractography was created for the GIPCA screen dance conference Dance and Film. It was also screened at the 2012 National Arts Festival’s film festival.
Choreographed and Performed by Kristina Johnstone, Jamila Rodriguez and Steven van Wyk
Filmed and directed by Mandilakhe Yengo
Fractography: The untold story of Napoleon and Jospehine subverts the traditional love story of Napoleon Bonaparte and his lover and wife Josephine de Beauharnais, using these figures as archetypes of male-female relationships.
Choreographed and Performed by Kristina Johnstone, Jamila Rodriguez and Steven van Wyk
Using dance theatre, Featherweight looks at three women in a boxing ring. Dressed in boxing shorts and high heels, the performers challenge ideas of male power and dominance as well as the image of the porn star female fighter.
Choreographed and Performed by Kristina Johnstone, Thalia Laric and Jamila Rodriguez
by Shirley-Anne Bezuidenhout
Underground Dance Theatre is at the forefront of redefining dance in South Africa, creating progressive and innovative works. Their latest production, In Opstanding, is a masterclass in inter-disciplinary alliance, with music, voice and movement given equal footing in purveying concept
by Debbie Hathaway
ONE of the worst things a performance company can be is formulaic. It’s a mistake that Underground Dance Theatre never makes.
by Annzra Denita
A woman lies dead on the ground, her arms and legs spread out like a cliché chalk outline. A man and a woman stand over her body, looking down at her with cold, calm faces. One of them is holding a gun…
by Sarah Roberson
Underground Dance Theatre is well known for creating high-quality, experimental and stimulating dance works. They do like to throw some intriguing and sometimes wacky stuff our way. It’s no different with LoveZero…
deur Elretha Britz
SÓ ‘n dansvertoning het plaaslike dansliefhebbers nog nie in Bloemfontein gesien nie. Die standaard is hoog, die aanbieding is professioneel, maar bowenal is dit ‘n vars vermenging van danssoorte met briljante choreografie wat jou van die eerste passies vasgenael hou.
by Steyn du Toit
After months of strenuous rehearsals Cape Town’s Underground Dance Theatre is finally packed-up and ready to embark on their annual trip to the Eastern Cape…
by Steyn du Toit
“Let’s start with the honourable arsehole,” Thalia Laric tells a group of performers sitting in a circle as I enter the theatre. Thankfully, as it turns out, she’s not referring to the journalist that just walked into their rehearsals.
deur Marina Griebenouw
Verrassings is volop by ‘n kunstefees, sommige meer aangenaam as ander. ‘Askoop’, ‘n produksie van die Fiësta-pryswenners Underground Dance Theatre val egter in eersgenoemde kategorie.
deur Willem Bester
Vaslav Nijinsky het in 1912 opspraak verwek met sy ballet L’après-midi d’un faune vir die Ballets Russes in Parys, met Claude Debussy se eponieme werk as musiek. Die erotiese subteks het gehore van destyds geskok…
Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council (2012)
Arts and Culture Trust (2013)
National Arts Council (2014, 2015)
Waterfront Theatre Company (2015)
via Thundafund (2015)
Johannes & Anina Deetlefs
Louis de Villiers
Emma du Preez
Johan & Lorrein Katzke
Francois & Annette Marais
Izak & Amanda Marais
Daniel & Christy Morcos
Mark van Straaten
Ansie Van Wyk