national Arts Festival Banner

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Site-specific dance creations captivate with contemporary explorations of imagery of history and ancestry. (Review by Verne Rowin Munsamy)

Monday nights are usually our dark nights in the theatre but when the Jomba! Festival beckons, the Calle must be answered. No stranger to the festival, the KZNSA Gallery played host to three site-specific dance creations which teased us with hints of strong technique but instead captivated us with contemporary explorations of imagery of history and ancestry.

Making use of the street and entranceway of the Gallery, the French company, Compagnie Ex Nihilo, rendered a recitation of the work Calle Obrapia#4. As is the nature with site-specific work, the piece changes shape in relation to the new space.

The restaurant tables made way under the night sky as the outdoor area played house to Across, not Over, a dance creation from India, choreographed by Preethi Athreya and danced by Vikram Iyengar. With the rhythms of classical, Kathak dance drummed by shoes and his hands, Iyengar meticulously deconstructs our fast-paced notions of classic dance through a slow, floor rolling, gentle choreography.  What is most interesting about this choreography is that it cuts off the hands and the face which, if you are familiar with classical Indian dance, are the most expressive parts of the body used to create meaning through this form. This slow-moving deconstruction strips away much of the meaning found in classical dance but at the same time re-invents meaning through what remains. It challenges this notion that classical dance has become more Bollywood in contemporary times.

The third and final contemporary dance creation was performed in the main gallery. Titled Migrations (at the feet of Kali), it is choreographed by Lliane Loots in collaboration with Iain Ewok Robinson, Manesh Maharaj and the ADD Flatfoot dancers. Fusing Kathak with Slam poetry and contemporary dance, the choreography reminds us of our history, challenges our ancestry and nudges us to wash away our history and start fresh. This contemporary creation by Loots, draws on our colonial past to infuse life into a retold story of Hindu mythology and the destructive dance the Kali performs, to slay a demon. We are reminded that it is only in our humility that destructive forces may be quelled.

Tonight we lay down in humility before the dancers on stage as they reconstruct their own histories in a space and site. They remind us that our histories can be rediscovered. - Verne Rowin Munsamy