Originally from South Africa, Jacqui Du Toit came to Canada to be a Zulu dancer as part of the Amakhosi Circus. But hours of long training and strong determination all came tumbling down when Du Toit tore a ligament during practice—an injury that left her unable to dance again.
Shortly after, the Amakhosi Circus came to an abrupt end, as the shows began drawing fewer spectators and the show eventually went bankrupt.
After this disappointing end, Du Toit had to build a new life, she yearned to discover herself, to earn a living, and to start a family. Her quest to start over brought Du Toit to Ottawa, where she struggled to get by and financially support herself.
The formation of the performance company 8th Generation, and the upcoming performance of Du Toit’s new play Eden, show just how far she has come.
“We want to cross borders and cross this invisible wall between audience and the artists,” she said. Eden sets forward an important message about believing in one’s dreams, and thriving to make them come true.
Du Toit went on to explain that all the artists who contributed to the making of Eden influenced the play and found their own connections.
“I don’t know where I found them,” laughs Du Toit. “I just did.” The group 8th Generation consists of eight different artists and was founded at the beginning of this year. It started off with minor performances in a local art gallery in Ottawa, combining different dance styles, theatre, music and mime, to create a masterwork of art.
The collaboration of 8th Generation is founded on equality, sharing, and a profound love for life through art. “It was magically formed, the perfect timing,” she said.
For Du Toit, this group emerged from a profound determination to create her own work. “I never had the guts to do something that speaks in my heart, because I didn’t know what was in my heart at the time,” Du Toit said.
Eden is the powerful, heart wrenching story of a young girl’s personal evolution as she searches for her silver charms, which had been taken away from her by strange creatures from a different world. Her journey takes on a psychological aspect as the various creatures she encounters on her travels open her eyes to a new way of life and a new way of thinking. Going beyond the fictional story, this production brings the audience on a journey through one’s self, a quest to understand the reality of human being and the way we work. Du Toit explained that her own adventures metaphorically mirror young Eden’s psychological quest for self discovery.
“We forget that we are the creators of our own story, but we give this power away because of attachments,” Du Toit said.
Eden played on Saturday Nov. 3 as a trial run. Du Toit called it a way for the troupe to “see the vibe in Montreal.” She said 8th Generation hopes to be back in Montreal for the spring, possibly collaborating with Theatre Ste. Catherine.