(Let) Down To The Marrow

Jabu Siphika and Zinhle Nzama in 'Ukubona Ngokwami' a segment in 'Down To The Marrow'. Photo by: Toby Ngomane

Down To The Marrow was a somewhat underwhelming contemporary dance piece presented by Flatfoot Dance Company. The work was divided into two different pieces of choreography by several different choreographers and for the sake of distinction, this review will be divided into two parts.

Ukubona Ngokwami

The first work was titled “Ukubona Ngokwami” (In my perspective) and was choreographed by Jabu Siphika and Zinhle Nzama. The two women were also the only ones on the stage, and it swallowed them whole. Although there were striking moments, as a whole the piece lacked a coherent use of space, and the rhythm did not help. The piece, which was meant to be a discussion around gender violence and women finding closure and sanctuary within themselves and the company other women, was greatly let down by the lack of good lighting design. The lighting state of the piece felt uninspired and bored and the piece felt as though it were in two lighting states.

It was extremely unfortunate that the dancers created a lot of interesting movement language only to leave be left high and dry. “Ukubona Ngokwami” tried to make use of strong silences, but they did not work. The audience was left feeling uncomfortable, and again this did not help the rhythm of the piece. Overall the piece was not polished and felt messy for the most part. The dancers also lacked the physical training that could’ve helped the piece come alive.

Dancers from Flatfoot Dance Company in ‘Ndlelanhle’ a segment in ‘Down To The Marrow’. Photo by: Toby Ngomane

It is unfortunate that this second piece was no better. Ndlelanhle, choreographed by Sifiso Khumalo, was a weak piece: not so much because of the choreography, but rather because of the dancers. This group of five male dancers also lacked the physical training that needed to maintain themselves on the stage and to make the choreography something worth celebrating. This piece also lacked a sense of rhythm and breath and this was greatly due to the awkward silences in between the songs. The execution let down what could have been a very interesting piece of choreography.

This work was also not polished and lacked the physical clarity to make it work. Just as this piece began the power went out and it ruined, according to artistic director Lliane Loots, what was meant to be an interesting lighting design. The piece was meant to be an exploration of alternative Zulu masculinities, and at times it almost succeeded in its attempts – but for the most part those ideas did not translate.

Overall, Down To The Marrow is definitely still a work in progress.

You can watch Down To The Marrow on 2 July at 14:30, 3 July at 18:00 and 4 July at 14:00.

By Toby Ngomane