Review: Azishe

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AzisheJazzart Dance Theatre’s annual celebration of dance features performances by various dance groups including CAFDA, Dance For All, Sibonelo Dance Project, Mbekweni Youth, UCT School of Dance and Indoni Dance.  Unfortunately on opening night the Jazzart company itself was not able able to perform due to tragic circumstances. Nonetheless it was an entertaining evening of African and Contemporary dance.

CAFDA and MYDP both present high energy, fun works – a great showcase for their young talent, though they could be choreographically more interesting with more attention to spatial variety and patterning. Sibonelo’s ‘Alkebulan’ also lacks diversity with the dancers predominantly dancing in one big group, but the interesting movement vocabulary and sheer aggression and passion of the dancers make up for this. ‘Face to Face’ by UCT is choreographically more interesting and the dancers all possess a great movement quality though slightly lacking in unity and musicality.

I was pleased to see Dance For All  performing ‘These Shadows’ again with much more refinement and musicality. The improvement in the dancers’ clarity and sharpness brings out the choreography’s nuances and ingenuity, while their shownmanship and athleticism enhance the dynamics, engaging the audience through the shifting patterns and phases of this captivating work by Louise Coetzer.

The apex of the show – at least on opening night – is ‘Inkululeko’ by Indoni Dance which is truly one of the most powerful dance works I have seen in a long time, bringing the audience to their feet even before the curtain call. As the dramatic music started I had my doubts as to whether the piece could live up to such iconic music but I was thrilled to be proven wrong.  The dancers explode onto the stage, filling it with a zealous energy, throwing themselves into dangerous and exhilarating lifts. But beyond the tricks and abilities of the dancers, what makes Sbonakaliso Ndaba’s choreography stand out is the togetherness of the dancers, who move with such a throbbing energy and synchronicity that is rarely achieved by many professional companies. It is a compelling work that inspires massive pride in what is brewing within South African dance.

Shirley-Anne Bezuidenhout

Azishe runs at the Artscape Theatre, Cape Town, till 4 July 2015

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