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Performing arts lecturer wins 'African Voices Changemakers' award by CNN

Lecturer in Drama and Performance Studies in the School of the Arts, Dr Lliane Loots has recently caught the attention of the global news network CNN. Its 2020 series, called: "African Voices Changemakers", highlights the African continent's trendsetters who create their own subcultures in areas such as travel, fashion, art, music, technology and architecture.

Hosted by Nigeria's Arit Okpo, this CNN programme aims at honouring creatives who are finding new ways to positively impact their communities by making cultural contributions to the African continent.

Loots was informed in early January of 2020 that she and the work that Flatfoot Dance Company are doing had been awarded the honour of being one of this year's "African Voices Changemakers".

Loots says: "I was a little shocked when I got the call, as I was not even aware that 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 in particular being honoured is the vast amount of arts community engagement done in both township and rural areas in the KwaZulu-Natal region.

Loots' 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.

Working outside of formal education spaces, Loots and Flatfoot work with about 800 youth a year in programmes that have now been going for over 16 years. This work connects with Loots' own teaching and learning at UKZN as her recently awarded 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 now available online:

Loots said: "This has been great recognition for Flatfoot and for the incredible dancers I work alongside, and all the more fragile as the onset of COVID-19 has meant that all our township and rural arts programmes are now suspended - the first time in 16 years!"

She continues: "The arts in Africa are particularly hard hit by COVID-19 lockdown as much of the embodied and somatic work we do is not easily transferable to online platforms. We remain deeply challenged to find solutions!"

For more information, please contact:

Dr Lliane Loots (071) 748 [email protected]