?? and Reflex as a double billMoira de Swardt
Moira de Swardt: The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative presents double bill for Dance Umbrella.
Lulu Mlangeni and an ensemble of three musicians presented a work entitled “??” with a choreographer (Mlangeni herself) statement “We are there for we exist … When you read this, what was the first thing that came to mind?”
The three musicians are not acknowledged in the programme, but included a guitarist, a keyboard player and a percussionist. One of them, I presume, is Irven Teme who, together with Lulu Mlangeni and Irven Teme.
The work began with sensory deprivation and heightening for the audience. On a pitch black stage, just enough light oozing in from the wings to ensure that our eyes never adjusted to the dark, Mlangeni strutted and stomped around in a pair of high heels, clicking away, having us sense where she was by sound alone. After the lights went up to reveal the high heels on stage right (the audience's left) we were treated to a variety of clicks as she walked. These were produced by the musicians. The timing was almost unnaturally accurate. A “shaker” produced the little scraping movement as Mlangeni dragged her feet across the stage.
Just as we were getting bored with this game the action changed and Mlangeni presented a second section to the work in which movement became more important than the collaboration between sound and action. The third and final section had her in a bath with one of the musicians wetting her. The bath was deliberately precariously balanced and at one point she was forced to exit the bath before the second bucket of water was thrown over her. This left a musician with a bucket in his hand, looking a bit moegoe-like but he handled it well, waiting for her to return for the finale, during which time he emptied the water from the bucket onto her hip as if that had been his original intention.
As the audience was waiting for the second piece to commence the woman next to me asked me what the story was. When I explained to her that I thought we were meant to interpret it any way we saw fit, she stared at me as if I were a particularly irritating child who had set out to give a silly answer. So, if anyone has a better narrative for the above scenario, please feel free to make copious use of the facility for adding comments. I look forward to being enlightened. In the interim I just go on with my own personal interpretation in keeping with the choreographer's challenge.
The second work was “Reflex” choreographed and performed by Songezo Mcilizeli to music composed by Nicholas Aphane and sounds created by Mcilizeli himself. It was a recorded sound track.
The work was choreographically interesting and made use of mirrors both on the floor and in the little secret recesses of our minds, symbolised by the suitcase with a mirror and light in it. (“See, ma'am, I am capable of deep and cogent analysis of symbols”).
The choreographer's statement says “It is what it is … It could be about how we see our own reflection.” Again no narrative, just our own responses to what we have been given by the performance. And it is enough to intrigue and titillate.
Ultimately, though, these two pieces are overshadowed in the evening's entertainment by the offering by MIDM and Mark Hawkins in the main theatre, a much bigger, longer and stronger work. This was a pity as each of them was done beautifully. But such is the joy and peril of arts festivals. Serendipity for these two choreographers would have had “Hotel” be a dreary piece, but it was not to be. However, the charm of the “curtain raisers” meant that the entire evening was wonderful and that is to the benefit of the Dance Umbrella and dance community generally.
The Dance Umbrella runs at various venues around Johannesburg until 6 March 2011. This double bill performance was Downstairs at Wits and took place on 28 February 2011.
Moira de Swardt
011 482 7320
082 553 2457
Dates: Thursday, 6th March 2014 - Sunday, 16th March 2014
Wits Theatre Complex, Braamfontein Johannesburg Gauteng South Africa