Making more than just a spectacle
Foofwa d’Imobilité, born Frédéric Gafner, took the conventions of dance theatre and the notion of the fourth wall and smashed them to smithereens last night in his “The Making of Spectacles”.
Foofwa and fellow dancers Ruth Childs, Anja Schmidt and Filibert Tologo asks the audience to construct the dance by voting in a public, democratic process.
As they introduce the entire cast, from dancers to lighting and media technicians, they speak of a work of collaborations between themselves, the “producers of imagination” and us, the “decider of the work”. The audience goes through quite a long process of selecting each option of dance phrase, theatrical action, theme, music, lighting and costume before taking a vote.
As they huddle together on stage and whisper and construct the structure of the dance, there is no effort to hide the ‘putting together’ of the work. On the contrary, the raw, unrehearsed and unedited nature of the piece is deliberate. Admittedly, while I found the method to be very different (and very entertaining), I may have become too accustomed to there being a brief synopsis or insight into the work .It seemed abstract and very disconnected. It was only after the first half when Foofwa stopped the action and had a mini discussion with the audience that the penny really dropped and allowed me to make the connection between the piece and its commentary on South African politics and government.
From this point on I was able to make the links: One had to be wearing the spectacles to address the public as this would make them the spectacle/event/someone of importance and thus validate them enough to be given this privilege. When the audience chose “TV on the Balcony” as its soundtrack and wasn’t happy with their choice, Foofwa was reluctant to change the track saying “but you voted and made that choice, if we change it, it would lose the point of voting”, demonstrating the way society is never happy with the road it chooses.
The way the dancers hold each other’s mouths and smile, as if masking or hiding the other’s actions and words; or the creating of a ‘wall’ in front of someone else’s movement with a smile is about deceiving the public into believing that all is well. This is a clever play on the role that government and its politicians have assumed.
Never before had I found a political comment to be spoken so loudly yet so subtly at the same time … Brilliant!