Review: Dansmettieduiwels


A small ensemble of stalwart performers known simply as ‘Garage’ is set to become the newest
dance training entity in the Northern Cape with proceeds from this season going towards a creative
space in the oldest mining town in South Africa, O’okiep. Presented by multiple award-winning
choreographer Alfred Hinkel and John Linden, the creation of Garage’s Dansmettieduiwels may very
well revolutionize the dance arts.

At the Baxter last night, a photograph of the inside of a historic cathedral, along with excerpts from
scripture were displayed on an enormous backdrop screen to the opening soundtrack of Janis Joplin’s
soul-stirring ‘Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz’. It was an unlikely combination, and oddly
comic, but it set the scene as modern day but with a spiral back into history.

And so began a powerful story on a taboo subject: paedophilia within the Catholic Church’s
priesthood while tradition-bound families turn a blind eye to a child’s demise. Ill-suited to the
spiritually or physically inhibited, this thought-provoking portrayal of sexual abuse addresses, through
dance, our own dance with the demons.

The protagonist of the story is Eros, god of love and sexual desire, played by newcomer Byron
Klassen. Orchestrating destruction through manipulation and temptation, we see Eros throughout,
either quietly observing the destruction of his own creation, or sporadically making his presence
known through vulture-like temptation. This is a portrayal of our own continuous inner battle; the
dance between what we know is right pitched against what is easy. It’s a tug-o-war that ends in a
young, troubled boy (17-year-old Farrol Coetzee) and his nemesis (Klassen) ultimately walking away
as friends.

We see a priest, Emmanuel (Grant van Ster), ultimately succumbing to the allure of the young boys
that are under his care. In an intensely disquieting scene we witness the young boy fighting his own
losing battle against the sexual advances of his protector: Emmanuel, clad formerly in priest’s garb,
but now in S&M leather.

Then, as the images on the backdrop have changed from those of the Creation to the Temptation
of Eve and the Expulsion from Eden and on to images of the scourging and crucifixion of Christ,
so we see guilt consume all those who were responsible for the young, abused boy. We see the
characters each haunted in solitude by a destroying conscience. The production ends in the inevitable
destruction of a family and a faith, a reminder of our delicate and inadequate natures and our
obsession-driven weaknesses.

Never did I think I’d see world-class contemporary dance performed to the sacred choral sounds of
Bach. How ingenious. Hats off to Hinkel and his team for choreography that is raw, complex and to
the point. Bravo also to the talents of Marsten Carsten for costumes and projection design, as well
as Bennie Arendse who through masterful lighting managed to move us from the heavenly light of
a cathedral to the dark recesses of the mind, casting emphasis on select parts of the anatomy and
achieved profound effects on a vast stage. I look forward to more from Garage. In the meantime,
prepare to be tested.

by Andrea Cibrario

Dansmettieduiwels runs at the Baxter Theatre 29 – 31 March 2012.

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