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Saturday, August 12, 2017


A delightful dance work that shows a different side to growing old. (Review by Verne Rowin Munsamy)

The Playhouse Company kicked off their 21st South African Women’s Arts Festival this week with a busy line up of shows, one of them being Handbag: Don’t clutch me too tight. This brand new dance work is choreographed by the extravagant David Gouldie and features dancers from the award-winning Playhouse Dance Residency and Flatfoot Dance Company.

We have become accustomed to Gouldie’s quirky,  outrageous choreographic style but in Handbag, he tones down his language to gently tell the stories of the remarkable women living in TAFTA.

This delightful dance work opens with a video of Gouldie and the dancers meeting and interacting with the elder women, who proceeded to share their epic stories of joy, fear, love and loss. Breaking the stigma attached to contemporary dance, the choreographer aimed to show the concept from inception to staging. Gouldie along with the 14 dancers, and a few women from TAFTA, took to the stage to create a new dance language.

A white cloth canvassing the stage with white staircases leading to nowhere, invited the audience into the world of Handbag. Like the stairs leading to the Pearly Gates, this piece reveals the wealth of knowledge that is libraried by these forgotten women, their strife, loneliness and joy that surrounds them in these the final days of being.

Gouldie cleverly conceived the piece using a canon effect which created these ripples of movement that almost represents what these once thunderous waves had become. Voice-overs of these wise women reciting their names demonstrated a determination not to be forgotten.

Using the up tempo jive, ballet and some darker contemporary technique, the choreography depicts the highs and lows that these TAFTA residents have journeyed. The choreographer does well to capture the essence of TAFTA life and the genuine fears that reside there.

A delightful dance work that shows a different side to growing old, one filled with, anxiety and sexual verve. Gouldie’s trademark lifts and synchronisation remain as ever capturing and daring, always pushing boundaries. - Verne Rowin Munsamy