Somewhat brilliant, somewhat flawed

2011-06-03 15:54

This four-part showcase of what the Tshwane Dance Theatre can do is somewhat brilliant, sensitive and generous.

It’s eminently seeable, but not without its flaws.

Each choreographer was asked to create a piece restricted by time, based on the comment by artist Andy Warhol on how everyone deserves 15 minutes in the spotlight.

The programme presents a ­deliciously retro understanding of a countdown in reel-film technology, offering each work a minute – which diminishes second by ­second before the audience’s eyes – to set up.

The Market’s main theatre has been used well – the arches of the stage are awash with light, ­curtains or a diminishing and growing projected skull of a bull, as the works ­demand.

The finest of the four pieces is unquestionably Synonyms for Seth by Mari-Louise Basson, featuring guest performer Leigh Novis, a young dancer afflicted with cancer.

Premised on a roadside boom which doubles as a gymnastic beam, the piece uses a mixed ­palette of sounds – ranging from ­Mandela’s inaugural speech to Sarkozy’s New World Order speech – blended cleverly with snippets of Tchaikovsky, Cia, and Florence and the Machine.

The ­empathy it is made with belies the choreographer’s youth.

Novis’ role is subliminal. Her presence is like the eye of a storm, lending the work a conciliatory role like a motherly hand soothing the torsion expressed by the other dancers who are older and more muscular.

Without compromising the piece or blatantly describing ­Novis’ plight, the work highlights what she brings to us.

Thabo Rapoo’s Silken Road makes music by Japanese taiko-drumming troupe Kodo and Israeli jazz songster Avishai Cohen sing separately but together, supporting this male-dominated piece.

The women, with the exception of Laura Cameron and Ipeleng Merafe, dance without credible soulfulness.

Occasionally, this piece skitters strangely: when dancers dance to songs, the danger is in keeping the movements so close to the lyrics it seems like a demonstration of the Semaphore signalling system.

The final two pieces, while compelling, are not as exciting.

Celeste Botha’s Here and Now tells of the ebb and flow of love and life.

While there are moments in which pretty becomes beautiful, these are not held, in spite of stand-out performances by Johan Dippenaar and Andre Regazzoni.

Timothy Le Roux’s All the King’s Horses reflects decadent colonialism but too many elements are pulled together in the confines of a pared-down stage.

His mixing of extracts from Mozart, Vivaldi, Eartha Kitt, Gavin Bryas and Bach zips you across centuries of music without explanation.

» 15 Minutes of Fame ends today at The Market Theatre, Newtown, Joburg.

To book ?011 832 1641

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