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Sunday, May 29, 2022


Poetry in Motion, Dreaming of Sons and Fathers... (Review by Verne Rowin Munsamy)

Award winning choreographer, dancer and Artistic Director of Mhayisa Productions, Musa Hlatshwayo, returns to the Playhouse New Stages with Udodana. It has been a while since I was treated to his unique style of choreography, poetry in motion, and yesterday appeased my appetite for African Contemporary Dance at the New Stages festival with his latest offering.

Hlatshwayo is renowned for his unique ability to tell African stories through Contemporary Dance. His dance works often utilise multiple spaces and focal points and Udodana is no different, occupying a few spaces creating myriad focal points. The dancers sometimes mirror the choreography in canon or juxtapose a solo with pair and trio work. The use of drums enhances a ritualistic ambiance.

Udodana is a piece that reflects on the bond between father and son and a son reminiscent of his father after his funeral. Memories of church gatherings, white lilies and touch or lack thereof are ever-present in the choreography. The futuristic looking costumes with a chair strapped to the back, with glow sticks are representative of the dreamlike state that embodies you after loss. The sense of void is solidified in the numerous empty bottles shrew across the stage and worn as a scarf, thus immortalising this feeling of isolation and untenancy that one burdens on their shoulders. 

The cast of 10 men, Musa Hlatshwayo, Lungelo Mkhize, Njabulo Zungu, Sifiso Mathibela, Sbusiso Ngcobo, Cebo Mthembu, Sphakeme Shangase, Tebogo Mncwabe, Brilliant Mthethwa and Sanele Ximba are astonishing in their stamina, strength and synergy. I always revel in Hlatshwayo's style of fast-moving hands, strong leg work and risky leaps and catches.

No matter where your focal point rested, you are treated to impeccable movement and expression. This is a wonderful fusion of African traditional dance with a contemporary flair. Look out for it if it comes your way. This is a must see for all Contemporary Dance enthusiasts. - Verne Rowin Munsamy