21 May 2020 Volume :8 Issue :16

Lecturer Wins CNN African Voices Changemakers Award

Lecturer Wins CNN African Voices Changemakers Award
Dr Lliane Loots and members of her FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY who won international acclaim.

Lecturer in Drama and Performance Studies in the School of the Arts, Dr Lliane Loots, has won international recognition for being a changemaker in Africa.

Loots and her work with the FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY caught the attention of the global news TV network CNN which runs a series called African Voices Changemakers, highlighting African trendsetters who create their own subcultures in areas such as travel, fashion, art, music, technology and architecture.

Hosted by Nigeria’s Arit Okpo, the programme honours creative folk finding new ways to positively impact communities by making cultural contributions on the African continent.

Loots was singled out for the work the FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY does, and selected as one of 2020s African Voices Changemakers.

Said Loots: ‘I was a little shocked when I got the call as I was not even aware we were on the radar for this type of honour.’

While Loots and FLATFOOT have travelled extensively within the African continent sharing skills and engaging cultural and dance partnerships, the work now being honoured involves the vast amount of arts community engagement done in both township and rural areas in the KwaZulu-Natal region.

Loots’s unique and evolving pedagogy of using dance as a methodology for life skills learning and what FLATFOOT calls ‘education towards a living democracy’, is what caught the attention of CNN.

Operating outside of formal education spaces, Loots and FLATFOOT work with about 800 young people a year in programmes now in existence for more than 16 years. This work connects with Loots’s own teaching and learning at UKZN as her recently achieved PhD was an exploration of these journeys towards finding new paradigms for dance education in South Africa that democratise historic access and inclusivity. Many of her honours students also get to participate in these programmes as part of their onward journey to connect praxis to research.

CNN began filming the work of Loots and FLATFOOT in January, and the short documentary created has recently just been aired on CNN. It is available online: https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2020/03/26/african-voices-changemakers-dancegod-flatfoot-ghana-south-africa.cnn

‘The onset of COVID-19 has meant that all our township and rural arts programmes are suspended – for the first time in 16 years!’ said Loots. ‘The arts in Africa are particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 lockdown as much of the embodied and somatic work we do is not easily transferable to on-line platforms. We remain deeply challenged to find solutions!’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied

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