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Gathering Momentum

by Nancy Dantas / Images by Sydelle Willow Smith / 08.03.2012

Marred by strike action, several Infecting the City events scheduled to take place in the early afternoon at the Station Concourse were cancelled. Audiences were left to bide their time eating KFC under a scorching and unrelenting afternoon sun. But protest in South Africa provides a performance in its own right. Dance and songs of dispute and solidarity resounded along city walls and streets, moving at a steady pace to slowly but surely gather momentum.

When the art finally started, from a bird’s eye view, or perhaps that of a white-collar worker in one of the adjacent towers, two distinct groups seemed to gather in the Forecourt. On the one end, giddy performers, on the other, a languorous audience comprised of light-blue uniformed children, city idlers and a substantial group of enthusiasts, each of which convened beneath the shade of the trees. Encumbered by excess equipment, or perhaps the conditioning that comes with rehearsal, teams seemed somewhat slow to react, bringing to the fore the practical and conceptual problems of transporting stage to street, and raising issues of how these events flow and truly blend into the fabric of everyday life.

ITC - Uvoko Mandla Mbothwe

Akirash (Abawon) was the first to erupt amongst the listless group distractedly conversing beneath the two trees. In this instance, he impersonates a disturbed woman bearing a doll strapped to her back, a bulging stomach, an old fashioned breast feeding bra, red skirt and cans around her ankles in the place of beads, perhaps as a sign of her status. She intentionally falls prey to a trap amongst the trees. Pushing and pulling like a moth caught in a web, the defiant woman desperately tries to set herself free, using her force to literally break the chains that have been bound around the trees, but simultaneously loosing herself in the act. The pretentious aerial acrobacies of Jackie Job and Emilie Lelouch followed suit on a ledge above Adderley and Riebeek streets, followed by the Steve Biko Centre and Remix Dance Company’s engaging inaugural performance “Uvuko!Resurrection”. Centered around themes of remembering, identity in the face of dislocation, physical and emotional impairment, this multilayered performance makes exceptional use of the acoustics and chance events of the forecourt’s open-air arena with its white-faced cast spread out in different scenes, addressing crowds directly. Drawn by their mesmerizing call, Uvuko ended with the audience hypnotically pursuing the group into the station to despondently disperse.

*A repeat performance will take place on the 9th. Shades, a hat and refreshments advised.

**All images © Sydelle Willow Smith / Africa Centre and Cape Town Partnership.

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