08 September 2010



Yeshica Naidoo

“Threads” can be described as ‘verbal dance’ or a ‘physical poem’ which brings together the spoken text and the language of the body in the most thought provoking stunning choreography I have ever seen. 

Dealing with cultural identity and gender relationships it explores the way in which the soul is crafted by this physical terrain we walk called life.\ Aesthetically the stage itself tell its own story, draped in threads across the entire back and side curtain, we see that nothing is without its history layered onto it.

Dancers perform with the very pregnant and incredibly talented poet Lebo Mashile in tepees of thread as they maneuver around each other until the space becomes too constricting around them that they break out expressed by Mashile’s words: “When your thread breaks, do you piece it back together or do you resist change and stay the same?”

The destroyed thread structure, which now looks like a broken shell, is indicative of the dancer’s choice of freedom. This is a stark comparison to the dancer who crawls onto stage under the strain and pressure of pulling the thick ropes he is covered in, only to be pulled back by the rope he is attached to. His thirst for freedom is echoed by Mashile’s poetry: “How do you rise when you’ve never flown before”.

A major element of “Threads” is a commentary on the way in which African culture can hinder women from living the life they desire, a life of freedom of choice; in which its artistic children don’t have the opportunities to soar in their careers and dreams .This searching for ones artistic and cultural identity soon becomes a questioning of the many roles of a woman whether mother, daughter, wife, worker, or animal in the bedroom

Mashile plays ‘mamma’ as she is tied to two male dancers by very elastic thread. As they dance around her in the most innocent childlike choreography they tell her how an uncle had touched them or how they were being bullied to which she answers: ‘Boys don’t cry!”. As her other ‘son’ asked about her crying, or bruises, she would say ‘Shhh! we don’t talk about that”.

This depiction of how we condition our children’s minds to cover up abuse and not show emotion comes to life both on stage and off as the audience reacts to “Uncle touched me” (they too have been conditioned to believe a man is weak to complain about abuse.)

“Threads” is collaboration between veteran choreographer Sylvia ‘Magogo’ Glasser, and Lebo Mashile created as they worked around their busy schedules. Their dedication and passion shows in this work. After all, as Lebo Mashile so accurately puts it, “The body is a pen, its movements the words”

“Threads” has its last performance tonight at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 7.30pm. I will most definitely be back for another dose of this reality in its most beautiful form. Not with the purpose to criticize our history but to love ourselves enough to change it … “Dance is an act of love!”

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