Grahamstown National Arts Festival 2011

Grahamstown National Arts Festival 2011 from iKapa Dance Theatre

By: iKapa Dance Theatre  07-21-2011
Keywords: Dance, theatre, Contemporary Dance


Lindy Wilbraham | Cue contributing editor
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Fuse, presented by the acclaimed iKapa Dance Theatre from Cape Town, presents four interpretations of forgiveness and reconciliation, which seem to play on the various meanings of “fuse” – to light a fuse, to blow a fuse and to melt or bond together into one.

The four pieces explore different aspects of making peace and finding wholeness in selves and relationships in ways that use bodies, and viscerally experienced emotions, in a variety of fresh, moving and enthralling ways.

The company’s trademark neo-classical contemporary dance skills are evident in the first two lyrical pieces, I want you, I need you, I love you, but…, choreographed by Ebrahim Medell, and Mein 2, choreographed by Ina Wichterich.

In the first piece, an extended pas de deux involving one male and two female dancers, shifted dance vernacular and mood to embody split commitments.

The audience was challenged and incorporated by the direct gazes of the women. The second short piece was more elegiac, seeming to work with longing and loss of parts of the self, which are found and come to terms with in another person.

The proficiency of staging in all the pieces – in terms of how movement was made to “fit” the space of the stage – was striking.

The third and fourth pieces, Forgiveness, choreographed by Maxwell Xolani Rani, and Finding Peace of Mind, choreographed by Theo Ndindwa and Tanya Arshamian (both iKapa dancers in this production), moved into an African-contemporary register accompanied by upbeat contemporary music.

Forgiveness has a narrative dimension, in that its double pas de deux recounts universal stories about the conflicts and crises, break-ups and make-ups, leavings and reconciled returns among partners.

Here two suitcases serve as props that are moved here and there as the messy process of forgiveness is wrought through phases of scolding and pleading, and stops and new starts.

I was pondering during this piece the distinction made by writer between forgiveness as a personal letting go of resentment and desire for revenge, and reconciliation as a change in both parties and a mutual commitment to a shared ethical future. Reframing the happily-ever-after ending of Forgiveness along these lines of reconciliation for public good might avoid some of the stereotypes of cheap gestures of forgiveness.

Finding Peace of Mind is a complex piece that works with the nuanced process of retreat, losing one’s way, acceptance and reconciliation following personal trauma.

The shifting moods are embodied by various pas de deux where raw emotion and breathtaking technique and timing are seamlessly and beautifully joined.

The impressive physical presence of Theo Ndindwa – both in his fluid strength of movement, and his stillness – forms the heart of this piece, a thread that links the fragments together.

Finding Peace of Mind begins with a live recording of Rebel. The self-revelatory introduction to ’s song, spoken to another audience, provides evocative commentary to this Festival audience on themes of the piece.

While I liked this resonance, and the way it slowly drew the dancers into “life”, the schmaltzy music and lyrics and, later on, the transitions between other phases of integration announced by completely different pieces of music seemed to strike dislocated and jarring chords.

But the five dancers danced with their hearts, souls and bodies fully present and engaged. The innovation of their dance style, energy in performance and commitment to explore socially and personally relevant issues in South Africa bode well for this young company – may they go from strength to strength through developing audience support.

Keywords: Contemporary Dance, Dance, theatre