Review: SacredSpace

Photo: Pat Bromilow-Downing

The Cape Dance Company’s latest production, Sacredspace, is triple bill of outstanding works that showcase the dancers’ diversity, endurance and technique. Each of the three pieces has a unique movement vocabulary that affects the audience in a different way.

It opens with the powerful and militant ‘Enemy Behind the Gates’ by Christopher L Huggins which, making use of the full depth of the stage and a huge cast, is a fast and frantic piece that hardly gives the audience a chance to breathe. The unrelenting score by Steven Reich is interpreted with a strong, crisp dynamic from the dancers, who maintain their energy and ferocity of movement throughout. The often linear stage patterns and the angularity of movement are effectively reflected in the continuously morphing lighting design by William Grant, resulting in a complete sensory attack.

More stunning lighting is created in the second piece with Wilhelm Disbergen’s curtain of hanging lights for ‘Cliffnotes’ choreographed by Andrea Schermoly. A slightly calmer piece, it is just as affecting for its human content and connections, with beautifully crafted duets such as the one between Marlin Zoutman and Ipeleng Merafe. There are some very interesting choreographic quirks throughout the cleanly performed work, and the only disruption to the flow is the regular and sometimes jarring changes in music.

But in an evening of spectacular works the stand out performance is the raw yet delicately detailed ‘A Thousand Shepherds’ by Jose Agudo, danced to resonating music by Vincenzo Lamagna. It is a masterful choreography that journeys from a sensitive gestural beginning and builds to a relentless fervor of blurring turns and throws that are reminiscent of the aesthetic of world-renowned choereographer Akram Khan whom Agudo has spent many years working alongside. His Spanish heritage is also clearly evident in the dancers’ body rhythms and flamenco-esque arm and wrist shapes. It is a compelling ensemble work that pushes the dancers to a different realm not only in their physicality but performativity. They commit to the guttural dynamic of the movement with such intensity that it is somehow purging to watch.

The entire evening is a display of some of the best and up-and-coming dance talent in South Africa performing varied and engaging choreographies. It is a must see, especially the riveting ‘A Thousand Shepherds’.

Shirley-Anne Bezuidenhout

SacredSpace takes place at Artscape Theatre, Cape Town until 10 December 2016. 


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