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National Arts Festival: Afternoon of a Foehn

Photo credit: JL Beaujault

Phia Ménard’s Afternoon of a Foehn1, a performance art piece organised as part of the 2012 France-South African season, has been the surprise hit of this year’s National Arts Festival.

This refreshingly unpretentious show utilises only basic props, such as plastic bags, a ventilation system, sticky tape, strategically placed weights and an umbrella, to create a beautifully choreographed dance performance. The “dancers”, however, are multicoloured plastic bag puppets, animated by cleverly controlled bursts of wind.


Photo credit: JL Beaujault
One is almost immediately struck by the humanness of these puppets, each undeniably imbued with a unique personality and a range of emotional responses. Performer Cécile Briand’s interaction with her “co-stars” is both sensitive and imaginative, at times delighting in their antics, sometimes organising them into a frenzied aerial dance and, finally, protecting them when a sinister threat looms.

Ivan Roussel is responsible for the composition and soundtrack, which includes Claude Debussy’s Afternoon of a Foehn, Nocturnes and Dialogue of the Wind and Sea.

Due to popular demand, two extra performances of Afternoon of a Foehn have been arranged for Monday 2 July at 12:00 and 14:00.

Venue: Thomas Pringle Hall, Monument
Tickets: R35 (full), R25 (scholars/students)

Performer: Cécile Briand
Artistic Direction, Choreography and scenography: Phia Ménard


Photo credit: JL Beaujault


[1]The word “Foehn” means a dry wind

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