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Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Lebo Mashile gives superb performance in collaboration with Sylvia Glasser and Moving into Dance Mophatong. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Moving into Dance Mophatong’s production Threads on the main programme of the 2009 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown sees the highly successful collaboration of legendary choreographer Sylvia “Magogo” Glasser and acclaimed performance poet Lebo Mashile.

Exploring gender relationships as well as cultural and artistic identity, the production sees poetry set to movement – or a “physical poem” as the programme notes indicate.

Lebo Mashile is riveting from the first word she utters. Moving easily as a dancer and giving a superb and highly articulate performance, she maintains the narrative throughout as an imposing matriarchal figure. Her moods are carefully explored whether captivating, fervently revolutionary, coquettish, passionate or exquisitely gentle. Every word and phrase has been carefully explored to give the exact right impact at the appropriate time.

In front of a backdrop of unravelled sisal, Declan Randal’s set comprises towers of single strands of rope and ribbon – the boundaries clear but flexible. His lighting is highly effective and moody and Veronica Sham’s costumes are attractive and richly coloured in shades of red.

Working with associate choreographers Muzi Shili and Sonia Radebe and artistic advisor Gregory Vuyani Maqoma, Glasser creates a dramatic work for her seven dancers with well-chosen music that looks at familial relationships as well as those in a wider context.

The scene with the mother and her two sons is very moving. To the one complaining about minor problems, her answer is “Boys don’t cry”. To the other questioning his mother’s bruises, her unhappiness, her isolation, her answer is “Don’t let’s talk about that now”. The pace never falters, even in its quietest most lyrical moments.

Don’t miss this if it comes your way. – Caroline Smart