The curtain rises to an image of smoke and light which meet in perfect harmony with the two male figures centre stage. A sense of the surreal wraps a blanket around the two men, before they begin their duet. It is only after their eyecatching introductory performance that one becomes aware of the bare set and stage that stretch into the black eternity of the night.
The opening piece, ‘Keepcover’, by Canadian choreographer Joshua Beamish, portrays the struggle for power without needing to include harsh movements to bring the message across. When the dancers enter or exit the stage, they carry a purposeful confidence in their long straight soldier-like strides. The genderlessness of the piece requires the female dancers to rise to a standard of strength that is usually required only for the male physique. Although the dancers excel in their precise technique and challenging movements, the piece tends to flatline along with the mood of the music by Hauschka.
Where ‘Keepcover’ shines with an inner intellectual confidence, Bradley Shelver’s ‘Scenes’ throws a daring, physical, warlike confidence at the audience. It’s all about equality and standing one’s ground, pitting female against male, to challenge one another and test the waters. At one particular point the male dancers lie in a straight line and then the female dancers purposefully run towards them and launch into a breathtaking leap before being miraculously caught. This is undoubtedly the highlight of the whole show, as the gasps in the audience will attest. Elzanne Crause in particular must be commended for her performance in the duet with James Bradley. Not only is her unwavering technical preciseness pleasing to watch, but she showed no hesitation even in the most demanding of leaps, trusting herself utterly to Bradley.
Act Two opens with ‘Treasures of the Heart’, choreographed by Michael Thomas and performed by the newly formed CDCII Repertory Ensemble. These young dancers give a pleasing performance, though it might have been better to place them as a curtain raiser, as the flow of the programme felt broken at this point.
‘Bolero’, choreographed by Christopher L. Huggins, rounds off the evening and is undoubtedly a crowd favourite. The bar scene releases a strong electric mood as hips move lazily into a comfortable rhythm of seduction. Couples take turns on the dance floor and show off their Spanish flavoured sharpness of heads, kicks and duo-turns. The competition between dancers builds up until the very peak of the music where two dancers run towards their respective partners and leap to be caught. A blackout cuts them off and so the meaning of ‘cadence’ – a measure or beat of movement – comes to an abrupt and energetic end.
The Cape Dance Company dancers deserve a well rounded applause for their stamina, endurance and seemingly effortless, consistent, precise technique. This is not an easy feat with such a small cast performing endlessly for two hours in the cool night air.
Cadence was performed by the Cape Dance Company at the Artscape Theatre from 27 November to 8 December.