JAZZART DANCE THEATRE. Artistic director Sifiso Kweyama presented four works for one night only at The Masque Theatre, Cape Town.
SHEILA CHISHOLM reviews
The adage ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’, paints a picture behind Jazzart Artistic Director Sifiso Kweyama’s artistic philosophy. Said Kweyama, “since 1973 when Sonjé Mayo formed Jazzart, the company has performed quite widely. Yet, because Artscape has become our permanent home, most of our shows take place there. However, as part of Jazzart’s mandate is to broaden our audience base we are here tonight at Muizenberg’s Masque Theatre for the very first time. Initially we worried if anyone would turn up, but look how many have – nothing ventured nothing gained!”
This untitled programme comprised four works – Brown Eyes, Honey Thighs, choreographed by Ananda Fuchs; Vrugte (Fruits) by Alfred Hinkel (former Jazzart CEO); Exurgent (defined as someone/something arising or coming to light) by Fuchs, and Limitless Self from Shaun Oelf.
Brown Eyes, Honey Thighs showcased four girls, Vrugte showcased four lads, Exurgent brought 13 students into our radar, while Limitless mixed nine exuberant boys and girls. Usually programme notes offer information regarding each piece. Without that benefit and, without an obvious narrative running through, viewers were left to draw their own conclusions as to choreographic intent.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But helps to assess whether or not the choreographer is merely joining steps in an abstract way, or has a story to tell? If so, does it come across?
However, at this performance, what came across is Kweyama and his staff have so energised and improved the dancers technical standard, it became a pleasure simply watching never-ending movement performed with high voltage – gratifyingly with very little repetition.
In all four works, choreographers successfully broke away from boring single image style, namely, everyone dancing the same steps at the same time in classroom fashion. Yes, each work did place dancers in straight lines all doing the same thing at the same time. But when that happened it formed part of the whole. Sooner or later, one dancer, then another, peeled away, until mercurial shapes and patterns formed.
In Brown Eyes, Honey Thighs the four girls danced with extraordinary intensity in what was (almost) a one dimensional work – bodies moving from horizontal positions with few leaps or floor rolls (please eliminate wriggling derriere’s at the audience, they belong in childrens, not adult ballets).
Vrugte’s four lads displayed a sense of fun, as well as an almost unnerving feeling of power as they leapt, punched the air, rolled bodies, arms, and entwined legs.
For Fuchs second piece Exurgent she used a sky blue cyclorama and sky-blue body suits to emphasise “arising into light from darkness”.
With 13 dancers to work on, Fuchs had them rising, spinning, falling, in kaleidoscope patterns.
In Shaun Oelf’s commissioned work Limitless Self, he aimed “to explore the pinnacles of discovering oneself – joy, sorrow, pain and pleasure”. Well-rehearsed and sincerely danced, what struck home was how well disciplined Jazzart dancers are, how well they coped on the small Masque stage, and how positively patrons responded to their dancing.
One aspect in abstract contemporary dance that warrants attention is using eye contact to build relationships between dancers and viewers. Blank looks into space place dancers in solo positions rather establishing group emotions. Perhaps Kweyama could look at this and consider producing at least one narrative opus in the style of Hinkel’s Cargo.
Jazzart to showcase ‘Nexus’
Watch Jazzart Dance Theatre present Nexus on Friday 23 November at 7.30pm, and on Saturday 24 November at 3pm and 7.30pm at Artscape. Nexus consists of works choreographed by Sifiso Kweyama, Ananda Fuchs and Shaun Oelf.
Jazzart’s Junior Company will be joined on stage by the bridging programme trainees and UCT dance students. The pieces exhibit the interconnection by degrees of separation and cohesion, and comment on the process of bonding that exists after initial contact with others. Tickets R100, students R60. Buy 2 tickets for R175. Book Jazzart tickets www.computicket.co.za or 021 421 7695.
WIN WIN WIN!
Win 2 tickets to Jazzart Dance Theatre’s Nexus show on 23 and 24 November 2018 at Artscape. To enter, email email@example.com by Thursday 22 November at 10am with ‘JAZZART’ in the subject line. Include your phone number.
More Jazzart productions: https://weekendspecial.co.za/jazzart-archives/ and https://weekendspecial.co.za/review-jazzarts-our-women/
Who: Jazzart Dance Theatre
Where: The Masque Theatre, Muizenberg, Cape Town
Jazzart Nexus: 23 November 7.30pm, Saturday 24 November 2018, 3pm, 7.30pm
Where: Artscape Theatre, Foreshore, Cape Town
Jazzart Cape Town: https://www.jazzart.co.za/