07 September 2011

"more..more..more..future" reviews

more ...more …more …future has its final Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience performance tonight (September 7 at 7.30pm), in the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, then moves to New Dance 2011, in Johannesburg, at the Dance Factory (September 9 and 10 at 8pm).


Julia Wilson

The performance has begun before the audience walks into the theatre.

The band stands on stage in absolute stillness but for the shimmer of their sequined, kaleidoscopically iridescent suits. The dancers move almost imperceptibly into the stage space, slowly donning massive coats made of recycled plastic carrier bags.

Faustian Linyekula's more… more…more… future denies virtuoso movement for a simper vocabulary- parts of the body are isolated and small movements cause the inflated costumes created by Xuly Bët (Paris) to expand, contract, sway and shift.

Linyekula explains that the artist constructing these costumes is not only interested in recycling materials, but also concepts. The costumes become not only a visual metaphor for the burdens one carries through the day, shed only in the life of the party, but also an extension of the dancing body. The oversized plastic coats contribute to the initially ambient music played on the electric guitar, rustling as the performers’ movements become bigger and wilder and the music escalates to an angry, heavy noise reminiscent of the punk movement of the late 70s and 80s. The dancers begin to jump up and down, spiraling faster and faster.

What is so remarkable about the work is the way in which the music and movement, as well as the musicians and dancers, are so effortlessly blended. Rather than being relegated to a small corner of the stage, the band, composed of Flamme Kapaya, Patou “Tempête” Kayembe, Rémi Bassinta Night Ness and singers Le Coq and Pasnas are spread across the space, forcing the dancers to navigate the spaces in between. The soundtrack is a seamless blend of elements, at times resembling the sound of whale song, building flowingly into chaotic sound that is almost deafening. The musicians are as performative as the dancers, expressing both rage and humour at a lifestyle which is destructive and yet a means of escapism for those living in the hangover of war, with no hope of a better future.

Dancers Dinozord, Papy Ebotani and Linyekula himself are incredible vehicles for expression. They create portraits of Everyman, lurching drunkenly across the dance-floor, enraged and yet helpless, transforming into insects shedding a dried out exoskeleton. The movement borrows from many forms, making use of the way in which people dance at parties in a parody of themselves, and incorporating African song and dance, break dancing and contemporary. They alternately fight the musicians or appreciate their music.

While many of the lyrics are written in French, and translated into English via projection, the effects of globalisation become apparent as the performers break into traditional songs, expressed in Lingala and Swahili. One sees the duality of a world at once African and colonial, and the effects on the psyche of the people of the urban areas of the DRC. Dancer’s sing and musicians dance, isolated in a small, claustrophobic light that speaks of the reduced space for tradition in a globalised society. Music is deeply linked with memory, and this image is nostalgic and natural in amongst the chaos of preceding moments.

In this exceptional work Linyekula refers to the cultural dynamics of Kinshasa, the urban capital of the DRC, in which the inhabitants are still recovering from the after-effects of war. Burdened with a legacy of poverty, the nightclubs are a form of escapism for the people, a means of breaking free of the realities of their world. more … more … more … future offers a deep sympathy with this plight but also criticizes the lack of initiative in reclaiming the future of the DRC, portraying its inhabitants webbed in an apathetic impasse; caught in a cycle of existing in a difficult paradigm and eternally searching for the next dose of escapism.

Finally past and present political (male) figures appear in a projected cloudscape. They become spectators, allowing themselves to dream of a future in which they are truly powerful. more…more…more… future is a call for the people of DRC, and indeed the rest of Africa, to empower themselves and fight for their futures, expressing eloquently and wittily the nature of a society both European and African, global and local.


Kivithra Naicker

Eight men, dressed in blindingly extravagant costumes and wearing intimidating, ominous looks, wait for the audience to settle down.

It feels as if a hard core rock concert is about to go down (on stage). The work begins with the house lights on which catches the still chattering festivalgoers completely off guard

The Brechtian technique of distancing the audience, allowing them to be conscious of what they see, was incredibly effective in guiding them to what followed. Faustin Linyekula's more...more...more...future is a highly confrontational contemporary dance work which explores and reflects a society which becomes so hopeless that they immerse themselves in the empty excessiveness of the “cha cha cha and rumba of independence” (a lyric from one of the songs ) to fill the void of the circumstances they are fated to.

The extraordinarily skilled singers and musicians - Flamme Kapaya, Patou “Tempête” Kayembe, Le Coq, Pasnas and Rémi Bassinta Nigth Ness - enhance the images created by dancers Dinozord, Papy Ebotani and artistic director dancer- choreographer Faustin Linyekula.

An exceedingly symbiotic relationship between the live band and the dancers forms the backbone of this interrogative piece. As the dancers put on exaggerated, layered “tutus,” made out of plastic carrier bags, it became a statement about the absurdity of designer clothes and high fashion being of importance in a place where poverty itself is a brand.

Lyrics sung and vocalised (in French, Lingala and Swahili) by the two astonishing singers Le Coq and Pasnas were translated into English and projected. Antoine Vumilia Muhindo’s substantially political and powerful text is juxtaposed with the movement and the music.

The dancers allow themselves to drown in the progressively loud, dynamic sounds and chant-like singing leading them into a trance- like state. They begin to move automatically, gyrating vigorously to the ascending tempo and pace of the beat. As the lighting shifts from multiple spots and semi darkness, to a distressing constant flashing, a night club environment emerges.

Out of control screaming over the thunderous music suggests terror, intense pain and frustration going unheard- constantly being engulfed by the sickeningly extreme. At one point the musicians and dancers congregate under a single spot light to form a community of traditional men, humming and throwing in phrases which they each respond to. They move in a stylized fashion, reacting to each other and painting a motion picture of bodies entwined in a hopeless pit.

Chaotic struggles, literally going head to head, vast disruption of everything around them – all this movement is meticulously executed and constructed. With his staggeringly intricate, highly visual, socio political dance theatre Linyekula has created a revolutionary mirror for us all to look into (and see ourselves).


Kirsten Holder

Stepping into the auditorium felt like walking into a concert venue with the band set up and the guitarist making a strange sound that haunted the air.

Performance is usually left to the dancers and the music is separated form the stage, allowing the work to be 'seen', but in more ...more …more …future Faustin Linyekula has other plans. Using the musicians as part of the choreography added another set of layering to this demanding, high energy work.

The three dancers wore plastic coats (made out of carrier bags) which were sewn onto chequered, button-up shirts. The drummer was dressed in a plain shirt and floral pants, while the bass guitarist wore an army trench coat and boots; the lead guitarist Flamme Kapaya had a red, sequinned hooded cape and vocalist Pasnas glittered in a flashy gold suit.

The movement quality was very monotonous as it kept looping or it became more fluid. The desperation to forget becomes obvious. The repetitiveness becomes almost hypnotic and melted away the wall that separates the stage from the auditorium.

The use of darkness effectively articulated the idea of how this subject matter can really take you to a dark place. A very interesting thing happened when the entire company joined each other at the back of the stage under a spot light and performed what looked like a very private ritual. Men dancing and singing (in Lingala and Swahili) together like that truly was incredible to watch.

Thankfully the lyrics to the songs were projected onto the screen, which was important, as they provided meaning and context. The words included the line “your future beyond the statistics, your future beyond the politics”.

Final the dancers and musicians from the Democratic Republic of Congo sat at the front of the stage (their backs to the audience) watching a screen on which was projected dreamy landscape. The clouds then flashed the faces of Congolese leaders and dictators.

Which raises the question ...What are we looking up to? A greater power that will only let us down, or do we have something better in mind, a dream of a place we would like to be one day? What future?

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Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience