Discover the spine of Johannesburg

20 November 2012 - 17:40 By Times LIVE
Spines, a local performance festival, will take place in Johannesburg this year. It's a performance-based tour of the city - a chance to discover the spine of the culture of Johannesburg.
Spines, a local performance festival, will take place in Johannesburg this year. It's a performance-based tour of the city - a chance to discover the spine of the culture of Johannesburg.
Image: Photo courtesy of Red Flag.

Spines, a local performance festival, will take place in Johannesburg this year.

It will be held from Friday, November 30 to Sunday, December 2 and invites the audience to move on the city’s urban routes using minibus taxis, their own feet, the Gautrain, and bicycles.

Festival visitors will see, hear and feel performances in different neighbourhoods from Sandton to Soweto.

As the third section of the Goethe-Institut’s New Imaginaries series, Spines seizes on both public and private transport lines in Johannesburg, connects them and makes the sociocultural and architectural diversity of the city the backdrop of an investigation into the city’s transport and life lines – its spine.

Spines is divided into two main routes that connect at Park Station:

United African Utopias, which aims at altering, inverting and transforming perspectives.

United African Utopias ventures into the future and into people’s dreams of a better world, a better time, a better person – into the dreams that we often seem to forget while swimming in the current of so-called real life. United African Utopias is a reminder that all things on the planet are invented by mankind, and thus, can be changed by mankind. We can create the world we want to live in.

The Utopian Crew consisting of João Orecchia, Hans Narva, Mpumi Mcata and Tanja Krone take the visitor on a journey. A journey to a new Johannesburg, where a park grows in Park Station and Main Street has become unrecognisable as Main Street.

A journey through the heart of the city, to a different pulse of life, travelling by any means other than sailing on a boat, to the other end of town and beyond, to places yet undiscovered, places within us – to a true utopia!

Visitors embark on a journey to and through the city.

Starting point is the Rent-a-Wreck car rental service in Doornfontein. On foot and by various means of transport, visitors move through the city to several venues, the utopias. Along the way they encounter performances, sounds, works of art, human beings.

Visitors are trained to deal with all sorts of situations they may face at the utopias. They learn new skill sets and survival strategies, each of them pieces in a puzzle on a mysterious journey.

The In House Project, which takes contemporary dance and performance art out of the dark auditoriums that are traditionally accepted as theatre venues and brings them back to the centre of people’s living spaces, into their apartments, houses and residential environments in the city or its suburbs – be it in Soweto, Alexandra or in the northern suburbs.

Performances are presented in private living areas as well as public spaces to which visitors are being guided along diverse public transport routes. The performance journey challenges participants and the audience to break their routine and habits and experience Johannesburg and its surroundings from other people’s point of view.

There are three different tours on three days, starting at Park Station in Johannesburg’s city centre using mini bus taxis and the Gautrain.

“I am seeking to change the public perception of urban and suburban spaces and to create images that move out of and beyond the ordinary dance stages that have become the norm,” says Sello Pesa, artistic director of Ntsoana Contemporary

Dance Theatre. Hence art is brought to the public space and reaches a new audience.

Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre is a dance collective that generates and implements concepts framed within socio political concepts, committed to exploring the diverse and evolving South African cultures and cultural practices through the medium of contemporary dance. Ntsoana Contemporary Dance

Theatre consists of Sello Pesa, Brian Mtembu, and Humphrey Maleka. It presents In House Project for the third time. Further artists participating in the project include: Leila Anderson & Stan Wannet (SA), Thabiso Pule & Edith Chakudu (SA), Murray Kruger (SA), and Johannes Paul Raether (Germany), Christian Etongo (Cameroon).

There is no admission fee. The public can register for their preferred tour(s) until Monday, November 26, by sending the name, e-mail-address and phone number to

United African Utopias
Start: Rent-a-Wreck,
13 Siemert Rd, Doornfontein

In House Project
Start: Park Station,
Johannesburg City

Friday, November 30, 10am, 12am
Saturday, December 1, 12am, 2pm
Sunday, December 2, 12am, 2pm