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Thursday, June 24, 2010


The First Physical Theatre Company and Frauke present dance of cosmic energies that aims to move audiences on an elemental and physical level. (Review by Sifiso Sikhakhane)

I went into the space expecting to find naked people onstage with their bodies painted white, moving so slowly that I end up dozing off halfway through the show, but Ama-No-Gawa proved me wrong.

Presented on the Fringe of the National Arts Festival, Ama-No-Gawa has helped me fall in love and truly respect Butoh, a Japanese dance form which is also known as the ‘dance of darkness’. Choreographed by internationally acclaimed Butoh choreographer Frauke, the piece explores the material and the movement of the cosmos through the Butoh body.

In collaboration with the First Physical Theatre Company, Fruake works towards creating a new African Butoh work. The dance explores the Ama-No-Gawa or ‘heavenly river’ of the cosmos and the natural and energetic material phenomenon within the universe. The work was created through a deep investigation into the embodiment of the performers from which resonates an inspired constellation of the movement that moves beyond conventional dance vocabularies. It is a dance of cosmic energies that aims to move audiences on an elemental and physical level.

The space remained so quiet that you could hear a pin drop, with the audience drawn in and perhaps moved by this avant garde style of moving.

Ama-No-Gawa imposes many demands on its performers, Frauke, Gary Gordon, Juanita Finestone-Praeg, Levern Botha, Nadine Joseph, Alan Parker, Sifiso Majola, Siyabulela Mbambaza and Sonja Smit. However, the performers took on the challenge by sacrificing their nicotine, their wheat and managed to deliver a first class performance.

As much as Butoh remains foreign to many of us, I believe Ama-No-Gawa has managed to give us, the audience, and of course its performers a lifetime experience. The production is showing at Centenary Hall until June 27 as part of this year’s NAF fringe programme. – Sifiso Sikhakhane