02 September 2011

Spreading The Love

Kirsten Holder

The opening performance of the Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience 2011 exploded into action with two striking performances that could potentially be life-changing.

The work by Abdou N'Gom (aka) Stylistik's Entre-Deux (In Between) speaks largely to the crisis of identity in Africa in general, where people are being forced to take sides, in a war against themselves. Watching this performance felt like seeing a man whose blood was boiling inside his body, with nowhere to go but inside. The intriguing juxtaposition of hip-hop, traditional music and jazz, impacted on a very different level as far as use of the technique goes.

Stylistik's use of floor work carried with it an interesting aesthetic that speaks to the idea of how one cannot get up off the ground if they cannot decide who they are or where they belong. What was most striking though was a part in the performance where he is seated at a table, using flow popping, applying a plaster mask to his face.

The imagery of the mask was very powerful and gave the performance a great deal of volume in terms of the reference to the opening floor work which worked very well. The decision to dance with the mask on his face before removing it (with the eyes covered) created an interesting sense of danger or potential injury and fear thereof, which speaks to the idea of the danger of this notion of the 'black face, white mask'.

The lighting design was very fitting and well done, completely adding to the ambiance of the piece, also the use of the mirror to re-direct the light was a clever design touch.

B-Boy Junior Bosila Banya’s Buanattitude allowed the audience to take a look into the life of a man who decided to pursue his passion for dance no matter what; a story we can all relate to on some level. The preconceptions about a man with limited use of his legs were not met, simply because there was nothing wrong with the way he danced. Break-dance requires a great deal of strength and co-ordination, and on both levels Junior's performance superseded any, and all, expectations.

A personal monologue provided an insight into the life of another person with a struggle. We cannot all choreograph dance work to express or deal with the difficulties we face, but we can learn something from Junior in this instance. In his piece Junior says “I dreamt of a world, a world in which I will feel protected from any aggression, a world where I would feel freedom... a free trust to be. I guess I dreamt of an ideal world, that's strange, I still dream,” which is a great way of putting it.

A lovely evening of technical excellence ending in a standing ovation, and a little bit of flavour from the artists themselves in a shared curtain call, giving us a taste of their personalities and a very fine display of love for what they do.

See pictures here

Buanattitude and Entre-Deux are repeated at Jomba!, at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre tonight, September 1, at 7.30pm. This double-bill moves to Johannesburg’s Arts Alive 2011 festival under the banner of Hip Hop Explodes, at the Joburg Theatre Fringe on Sunday September 4 at 6pm.

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Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience