PI Prof Hutchison (University of Warwick), and Co I Dr Loots (University of KwaZulu-Natal) who have been engaged with this area of work for some time, both as researchers and in practice.
Yvette Hutchison is a South African scholar who is a Professor in Theatre & Performance Studies at the University of Warwick, UK, where she has been lecturing since 2006.
Her research and teaching focus on African theatre, history and narratives of memory, particularly in terms of how colonialism continues to impact peoples’ everyday lives. She is particularly concerned with visibility and voices of marginalised groups; and so she set up the African Women Playwrights’ Network (AWPN) in 2015 with Amy Jephta (SA) to make African women creatives more visible. Her research explores the effect embodied, non-verbal explorations with social issues can have on audiences, especially in getting them to think about taboo topics.
In 2018, when Hutchison researched the history and development of integrated/ disability dance in South Africa for African Theatre: Contemporary dance, she began to think about her own position as a disabled person working in Theatre and Performance Studies. Until this time, she has kept these two aspects of her life as separate as possible for reasons that provoked this project, apart from when she created and performed a physical dance piece with Tanzanian performer Mbeka Chifunda entitled ‘Performing Disability’ (Winchester/ London) in 2001.
This work and her recent research has encouraged Hutchison to reflect on her experiences growing up in South Africa where, at the time, there was no integration of disabled people, as disability was segregated in the same terms as race under apartheid. And although much has changed in SA, and Yvette has received excellent support in the UK, issues of access – physical, educational, and social – caused largely by the lingering results of apartheid – are still often present in peoples’ attitudes to and assumptions about disability, and in access issues. These need to be made more visible for change to continue.
CI Lliane Loots holds the positions of Lecturer in the Drama and Performance Studies Programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Howard College Campus) in Durban, South Africa.
She has a Master’s degree in Gender Studies, and completed her PhD in 2018 looking at contemporary dance/performance histories on the African continent.
As an artist/scholar her PhD research is framed within an ethnographic and autoethnographic paradigm with a focus on narrative as methodology. Loots holds the founding position of Artistic Director and curator for UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts’s annual international JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience – a festival that turns 25 in 2023. This has included an increasing visibility of curating and supporting integrated dance – particularly in the last 15 years of JOMBA!’s 25 years as a festival.
Loots founded her own FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY as a professional dance company in 2003 when it grew out of a dance training programme that she originally began in 1994. As the artistic director and resident choreographer for FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY, she has won numerous national choreographic awards and commissions and has travelled extensively in Europe, America and within the African continent with her dance work.
In both her research and practice Loots continues to work with and encounter dancers living with both intellectual and physical disability through both training and choreographic programmes run by FLATFOOT. Of particular note is the creation – in 2017 – of the FLATFOOT Downie Dance Company – a company and training programme that works with adult dancers living with Down Syndrome. Loots was awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government in 2017 for her work (both artistic and curatorial) in the South African dance sector.