Contemporary Dance Frenetic feet search for an identity

Frenetic feet search for an identity

Every once in a while a blurb in the programme is so intriguing that you take the time to check it out. Sometimes you discover a gem. This happened to me at Khaya Ndlovu’s Silent Prints. An explosive gem.
Two feet and hands, held together by an energized elastic body and accompanied by a VOICE, embark on a powerful exploration of African women’s identity.

Khaya Ndlovu performs in ‘Silent Prints’ at Centenary Hall, St. Andrews College, Somerset Street, Grahamstown, 08 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Khaya Ndlovu is the Director, choreographer and dancer along with Zanele Ndlove as the Vocalist. CuePix/Pearla Berg.

Khaya Ndlovu performs in ‘Silent Prints’ at Centenary Hall, St. Andrews College, Somerset Street, Grahamstown, 08 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Khaya Ndlovu is the Director, choreographer and dancer along with Zanele Ndlove as the Vocalist. CuePix/Pearla Berg.

The performance begins with Ndlovu dancing to lyrical piano music, only her grey clad legs and feet visible beneath a black curtain. She pulls back the curtain and a woman dressed in a bright red plaid dress appears, frantically searching for something or someone.

They make their unique footprints together as suggested by the programme. The music picks up in intensity and Ndlovu is seen dancing behind a translucent screen of a Bantu Identity Card, with only the word female filled in.

The woman in red, vocalist Zanele Ndlovu, looks on disdainfully as the other Ndlovu’s body expresses its torment. Ultimately, they slap hands and face the audience together, fists raised high.

Ndlovu dwells on the frenetic, anguished side of her extensive dance vocabulary throughout a performance that had some women in tears from the start.

Songs and soundtrack are in isiXhosa and isiZulu, with some English translations, but I didn’t find that problematic. The dance and music said it all, and was received by a rousing standing ovation from women and men of all ages.

Khaya Ndlovu also is performing with Kmad Dance Company in LYFTAAL this Festival. She has danced previously in Dado Masilo’s Carmen.

Centenary Hall, 9 July, 8pm

Anna Christensen
Cue contributing editor

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