DTF 2011: The Dance of Silence

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“Explorations and Boundaries”, the theme for the 2011 Dance Transmissions Festival, sounded more than just a workshop coinage on Day 2. Tabu-Flo Dance Company’s Gavin Atuhaire and Rosemary Atim stepped out of their mostly Hip-Hop boundary (or comfort zone if you like) to explore the vast (and at times intimidating) world of contemporary dance. There was nothing shaky about The Roller Coaster the duo’s dance commentary on the tumultuous ride that love can be. Their choreography was as formulaic as baby formula, the plot very linear. Man cheats on wife with secretary, man returns home for nookie with wifey but the odd piece of red lingerie gets in the way. Man begs wife for forgiveness and as spouses are wont to be he takes her back.

The dance love triangle was done in 10 minutes but those two are budding [contemporary dance] talent waiting to be plucked.

Nigeria’s Ogunrinola J. Olabayo brought a much-needed dance aesthetic in his Port of No Return. It was inspired by a visit to Senegal’s Goree Island, the last outpost on the West African slave trade route before captured human merchandise was sea-bound. Python movements, wing flaps and occasional yelps peppered Olabayo’s deep choreography. Even his undress into loincloth was done with amazing precision. The soundtrack had thunder and African drums, he made little use of the row of water bottles and putting his head into a bucket was lost on me.

Rwanda’s Amizero Dance Kompagnie brought their A-game in a dance trio titled Les Larmes Noire/ Black Tears. “Three bodies expressing the hunger for freedom, taking you towards their story of pain and tears” the programme notes read. The signature traditional Rwanda wave-like hand movements plus accompanying head twisting made the piece authentic. Sadly for the spirited choreography, the soundtrack- spoken vernacular over a haunting flamenco guitar- eclipsed the imaginative choreography.

Anna Konjetzky opened the night with Abdrucke Folgen 2011, a multimedia solo that saw the audience leave their auditorium seats to encircle the petite dancer on stage. Hers were mostly Pilates-like routines mimicking the dance of silence. The only sound came from her heavy breathing amplified by the wiry microphone pasted onto her face.

South Africa’s Siya-Funeka Dance Company’s solo was movement to a beautifully harmonised anti-apartheid chant. The solo dancer was stretching out his arm as if to shake our hands thrice to which no one in the audience responded. Kenya’s Tuchangamke Productions capped Day 2 with a very contemporary piece. It explored rural urban relations in a duet titled Orudo Na Jua Kali. The female dancer explores the journey at a superficial and societal level while the male dancer explores permeations of urban reality at a personal level with deeper resonance of his environment.

It was too many things happening all at once; the male dancer oscillating between tube-fiddle playing and the female raising audience testosterone levels with a skimpy yellow frock. Eating a hard-boiled egg would have been easier to digest than this piece.

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