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Monday, July 6, 2015


(Reviews from the artSMart team currently in Grahamstown at the 2015 National Arts Festival)

A highly worthwhile and clever dance piece. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Presented by the National Arts Festival in association with Dance Forum, The Last Attitude was one of the first productions I saw on the 2015 event and it certainly got my festival off to an exciting start.

An “attitude” in ballet refers to specific movements, particularly in reference to the leg.

With costume design by Arlo Gibson of Strangelove and lighting by Oliver Hauser, choreographers Nelisiwe Xaba and Mamela Nyamza have created a fascinating and highly humorous parody on ballet dancers, particularly principal males.

They’ve also looked at ballet from the point of view of being black in a richly designed and presented elitist genre which is traditionally associated with white females.

As the audience enters, two dancers are warming up on stage in rehearsal gear. Hanging at various heights are headless mannequin torsos adorned with long net skirts.

Once the performers start, our dancers commence to walk unbelievably slowly and in an exaggerated balletic manner, crisscrossing the stage, occasionally bowing with grandeur to the by now somewhat bemused audience.

You wonder where all this is leading, but just when you think it’s going nowhere fast, the pace quickens considerably. An armless - and headless - mannequin with one leg is ceremoniously brought on, a head is attached and so is a net skirt. It also gets its arms.

The dancers don a series of splendid shirts and jackets. Music is introduced as is a corps de ballet, some delivered in a supermarket trolley. There are hilarious moments – as well as some pretty scary ones – as the mannequin is tossed between the two.

Familiar movements from classic ballet are recognised. The whole production is well performed and, while it takes a bit of time for the message to sink in, it’s a highly worthwhile and clever dance piece. Don’t miss it if it comes your way. – Caroline Smart

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