31 August 2013

Ritual power moves on the stage

By: Caitlin Goulding

Fana Tshabalala is a choreographer who knows the power of art, and the 2013 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner certainly does not shy away from it.  His work, Indumba is a fantastic piece that interrogates the power of cleansing rituals and the inner voice.

Six chairs surround five dancers laying inside a marked-off area, while a sixth dancer sits in one of the chairs. The only movement comes from the smoke drifting through the beams of four spotlights.  There is an atmosphere of stillness, and a feeling of the being watched, which lingers throughout the piece.

Slowly, the performers begin to move. The music begins and the bass vibrates through the body.  As the music builds, so does the dance. The movements quicken, with elements that are trance-like.  These talented dancers explore their inner voice as they explore their own bodies, finding themselves.  They are allowed the opportunity to remain in their own world and the chance to interact with each other.  

The choreography creates specific moments by varying the pace and movement, building speed until you can feel the dancers’ agitation, anguish and even pain as they go through the cleansing ritual. 

The use of a square space for a ritual typically done in circular spaces adds a different dimension to the piece, while Nicholas Aphane’s music and Thabo Pule’s lighting design add to the atmosphere.

Indumba is inspired by the little-known cleansing ritual from Mozambique used to heal veterans of the civil war.  It aims to allow those who watch it to be cleansed along with the dancers.  The result is an audience that leaves the theatre feeling cleansed.

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Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience