Kubili (2): gripping and fresh

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I was gripped for the first hour, and then they ran overtime which is a festival no-no.

Kubili (2) is double billed, but is more of a one-quarter and three-quarter bill.

Women got the one quarter, men the other three. Notable, given that the theme is female identity and abuse of women.

Durban choreographer Musa Hlatshwayo is well-known and on the rise. He trains younger dancers and is well respected for his bold, strong work.

Performers Mary Aphane and Nqobile Shezi are amazing. Everything is understated. No over performing of the ‘material’, no indulgence in pained expressions. You sit mesmerised by them. I could have watched them for longer.

Their costumes are bandages, there is mostly imagery of battering and bruising. It’s cyclical. More of the same is happening, it’s not stopping. They run and rebound off the imaginary punch. And imagery of the loss of virginity, purity, and being reprimanded by elders.

The closing image: on their backs, sliding backwards; the physical act is not easy to do, representing their struggle as women.

Men enter the picture: their skill and technique, performance without ‘performing’ to us (like the women before) was some of the best at this festival.

Creating dance is hard to do without saying the same thing over and over – your only resource is your body and the finite things that can be done with it. But Kubili (2) feels fresh, different and unseen.

Lots of questions are thrown out. Hlatshwayo also performs in the male duet, they come on and take over from the women’s duet.

S’bonelo “China” Mchunu starts acting – it’s unclear if he’s gay, or perhaps taking on a female role? – doing soft feminine movements and Hlhatshwayo starts cat-calling and blowing slobby kisses. Street harassment. The most infuriating thing, and the dilemma. Do you respond and give power, do you ignore and bottle it up, carrying anger.

Religion is linked to patriarchy, and victim blaming. A preacher blames mothers for not raising their daughters to know how not to be raped. Sickening. But it works.

There is the danger of Kubili (2)‘s theme becoming overstated – it would be more effective if some scenes are cut that, although in different way, repeat the same message. We got it.

But for these minor complaints, it’s gripping. Go there.

Kubili (2) is on today 07 July at 22.00 and tomorrow 08 July at 16.00. Book here.

 * This is a kitchen table review, which means it was dictated to another critter, like Mike Loewe, while essential domestic chores, like being cooked for, were being attended to.

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