Tribe of Doris is about building bridges across our world. Whether in a field in the English countryside or seeking opportunities across the ocean. A few months ago we endeavoured to give life to the beautiful imaginings of what would become ONE. A bridge between South Africa and England. A dance piece that has come from the beautiful talents of our Vela Tent facilitators at the Summer School, Yana Seidl and Nyaniso Dzedze. With funding from the British Council Connect ZA, a cultural programme developed between the UK and South Africa, a bridge of movement is coming to life in Johannesburg with the support of Drama for Life and Wits Theatre. Here director Yana Seidl tells us a little more about Doris part in the creation of ONE which is soon to reach our shores…
I think to talk about how Tribe of Doris is relevant to ONE, I have to start at the very beginning.
I remember my family’s first time at Tribe of Doris. I was 11 years old, and my sister was a new-born baby. It felt like freedom. We had taken the long drive from the north of England, to the south to find out what this event was all about. Car packed, Mama, Papa, and four children.
Having grown up travelling globally, I had a particular kind of exposure to culture that my classmates at school didn’t. I was the weird kid who idolized Balinese dancers and didn’t know how to explain that I’d been on holiday in a small hut rather than a posh holiday hotel.
Tribe of Doris made me feel understood; the cultural exchange, the legitimacy of cultural expression and the celebration of it all was wonderful. At Tribe of Doris I was exposed to new dance styles, I explored different approaches to movement and my joy for dance awoke.
When my Dad could no longer drive due to illness, my brow furrowed with concern as I asked, “ Dad, are we still going to be able to go to Tribe of Doris?”
His words are etched into my memory, oozing with relevance.
Returning my own serious conviction playfully, he replied, “Yana, even if we have to hire a donkey and walk it there, we’re going to Doris”
Tribe of Doris has always mattered like that. When Dad passed away we buried him wearing his three Doris necklaces.
Years passed and the event evolved, Tribe of Doris moved to a new site and I entered the new phase of Doris’ story with my partner in life, and partner in “ONE” Nyaniso.
That year Nyaniso spontaneously performed as a dancer at the closing ceremony with a guitarist and dear singer friend Faisal Salah (who Nyaniso had first met that week) – It was one of the most precious moments of my life and a memory which feeds the story of ONE still.
The year after, Nyaniso and I held a new event space together, The Vela Tent. It was after naming out space that we agreed upon “Vela Souls” as the name for our company.
ONE came about (with the precious support of Deasy Bamford, founding mother of Doris and general life-bossing radiant inspiration) and, remembering that closing ceremony, we called Faisal on as our singer.
The story of ONE evolved, and so many darlings have been killed in the process. It has continued to change, to shift, to grow – in so many ways the story is still being written.
And though there’s older roots in this journey than Tribe of Doris (like the guitarist and his dancing Woman In The Wind mother who features on the film) Tribe of Doris continues to weave its way into those stories too. Appearing sweetly out of the blue, in very relevant ways.
We filmed for the piece, above my Dad’s grave where those necklaces lie. We reveled in the power of this process in a friend’s house that had a Doris necklace hanging there. We all know Doris, I know Doris, and I so deeply feel that Tribe of Doris knows me.
Nyaniso and I are now in Johannesburg and now the show goes live, with six beautiful dancers and our leading man Nyaniso himself. It’s my debut show as a choreographer and director, Nyaniso’s first solo acting performance of this kind, and Vela Souls’ first show as a company.
It’s exciting times, and here across oceans, I smile, knowing that Tribe of Doris has got ONE’s back so good.
My gratitude is oozing.
To follow ONES journey check out the Vela Souls website: www.velasouls.com