The festival is so densely programmed and we are on an intense schedule to see as much a s possible. Yet fatigue is setting in and I am getting behind in my effort to report on what’s happening. I will do my best to catch up.
We have been moving back and forth between Newtown where the Market Theatre, Dance Factory and Dance Forum office are, and Soweto Theatre. Fortunately the festival has provided transport back and forth for all events, as well as arranging for Sophiatown to be our “green room” to network with everyone present which includes artists from across the continent and presenters mostly from Europe.
The October 2nd program gave us an opportunity to see Paniabra Gabriel’s work, “The Marrabenta Solos” which he developed, in part, at his BDF residency with composer, Jesse Manno, in 2010. What a thrill to see this work in its final form and with an extraordinary guitar player from Maputo providing a live score. This piece masterfully blends text (projected), movement, and live music to undertake a very sophisticated and beautifully crafted discourse about identity. Centered around the body Panaibra explores the question of what kind of body he inhabits –Portuguese, African, Mozambiquan, democratic, communist, black, small… The movement vocabulary, in particular, offered the visible traces of classical Indian dance (flat foot stamping, erect torso, detailed gestural extremities), the Romany/Gypsy tradition that became Flamenco, and African traditional and contemporary elements. Near the end he moved into the physical body of bones and muscles slamming body parts into the floor in a somewhat spastic manner. While I found the piece slightly longer than needed to drive home the powerful message, it was mesmerizing and very effective.
We also saw works by Sifiso Sememe & Desire Davids (both from South Africa), interspersed with short breaks for drinks, food and chatting in the lobby and on the lovely, large terrace.