Lebo Mashile and Moving Into Dance Weave Their Magic
With choreographic genius and spellbinding spoken word pulling at the threads of moral and social and political understandings of living in South Africa “Threads” reached deep into the psyche of the captivated JOMBA! Audiences.
A sea of threads was suspended onto the stage. Threads that connected the performers; invisible threads that pulled the audience into the performance. Watching the dances and listening to the poetry we became just as tangled up, weighed down, liberated, playful, violent and speculative as the performers.
A glowing six-month pregnant Lebo Mashile was in her element on stage weaving and connecting the different narratives with her performance and poetry. A moment of haunting beauty was when she was connected by a string to two Moving Into Dance Mophatong male dancers.
Playing the part of their mother, representing many mothers, Mashile imparted her motherly wisdom as her “children” dancing, weaving, connecting, asked questions and reported what had happened to them. While the little boys grew from little boys to men she continued to say “don’t talk about such things!” and “big boys don’t cry”. These images resonated within all of us.
Sylvia Glasser and Muzi Shili’s choreographic fusion of traditional Zulu dance as a mechanism to exert power and dominance over women was an interesting choice that had me reflecting on issues of masculinity and culture, well after the performance.
Conceptually the use of the ropes and string brought another level to the work. The quick transitions from light to dark spoke volumes of how even innocence has an undercurrent of eerie moral codes and impositions dictated by our less than Utopian society.
The main male quartet had a martial art feel to it that was both physically demanding and masculine supported by the music composed by musical director Nhlanhla Mahlangu and sound engineer Leon Erasmus.
“Threads” is a dance work which resonates not only for us as South Africans but as human beings.