“Calle Obrapia#4” Choreographed and Performed by COMPAGNIE EX NIHILO (Pic: Val Adamson)

Divergent Dimensions

by Immaculate Mlambo

The bodies that charge onto stage have me raising my left eyebrow as I wonder what is going to take place in front of my eyes. As I patiently wait for them to keep quiet and the music to start the two white male figures carry on with their speech and they do not stop.

Mamaza, all the way from Switzerland, offer their work EIFO EFI performed and choreographed by Ioannis Mandafounis and Fabrice Mazliah. The work offers a humorous and fascinating look into the relationship between two people. Their bodies fill the space as if there were more than two people on the stage and I sit quietly in my seat just absorbing the juxtapositions of their artistry while they talk over each other.

They are speaking, moving around the space which seems to look like a rehearsal room; they are wearing casual shorts and striped T-shirts (later layered with camouflage dress shirts). They move at the same pace, a fast pace to be talking and dancing. I carry on watching attentively still waiting for the speech to end and for the music to begin; but they continue to talk — this is definitely a non-conventional approach to dance.

There is a sudden lighting shift — the stage now looks like a fish tank because of the reflection of the fluorescent lights bouncing off the floor. An illusion that transports them and me into another dimension — the performers stop speaking, and remain still in an awkward contortion. In the stillness, the breath of the dancers can still be heard… and after some time, the narrative continues — though slower in delivery and accompanied by more deliberate movements. A sense of strength and trust resonates in their powerful movements where they give each other weight and energy. An extraordinary thing to witness with my bare eyes.

Just when I thought I had seen it all, the performance offered by Compagnie Ex Nihilo performed by Anne Reyman, Corinne Pontanna, Rolando Rocha, Jean-Antoine Bigot and Anne Le Batard, which took place directly outside the theatre’s foyer entrance, took me by surprise. The buzzing noise of the crowd as they stood and sat anxiously to see the performance, filled the air. These dancers showed me that no age can stop you from doing what you love, from jumping on walls and rolling on the tarred ground.

My skin was crawling and I could hear the audience squeal every time the dancers approached the wall or did a tuck and roll on the ground. They treated the ground as if it was another person, personified the wall as if they were jumping into someone’s arms.

The profound thing that I loved about both performances is the team work and the sense of family that exists in the artistry they displayed. The passion that was expressed in the movements, in the speech, in the way they interacted with each other. The first thing that captured my heart, was the love they share for each other.

Jamba! 2016 indeed has had a phenomenal beginning.