Oh, man!

waltz 1There were only three performances scheduled for Waltz at the CT Fringe. I saw the second one. Only one left. And you better make sure you see it.

A recent discussion with some journo and artsy colleagues made me (sadly) realise there’s not much that truly moves or upsets me these days. One suffers arts saturation after a while, perhaps? Or simply knowing all the tricks of the trade is disillusioning…


Waltz moved me.

Stopped my usual pen-scribbling-franticness. Here’s why:

Seven sensational men on stage. A shuddering leg versus the slow motioned, distorted reach of a poised waltzing frame. A head rears away from it. No. This isn’t wanted. But it’s infectious.

The constrictive formality of a jacket or coat. Western correctness. Dance’s discipline becomes military… “1. 2. 3.”

Amidst this, a comforting and encouraging voice: Fatherly? Brotherly? Loverly? Strictness counterbalanced with tenderness. An embrace, a caring caress.

Masculinity. Hmmm. This “thing” that has spawned patriarchy. This ugly “thing” that demands strength, stability, assured ‘knowing’ from men, guidance for all (hu)mankind… Waltz will have you rethinking all of this.

A clasping grasping duet reveals vulnerability. A man is implored not to act out of character; don’t concede to emotion. But a relentless driving force is undeniable. Something is disturbed in the body. A shaking. An unnatural manliness. Can there be such a thing?

Dresses and waistcoats and blouses and collared shirts assault and inflict themselves upon the dancers. Identity is entrenched in image, in clothing. What you wear, are told you must/can wear, choose not to wear… these things despite one’s desires create or obstruct one’s wished, selected, gendered identity… right?

Flickers. Shadows. The partly seen cast behind the frames of hung clothing… reveals what we think we know. We only see part of the picture. Part of the man… But Waltz is driving and moving and insists on shifting. Their movements and our perceptions.

For our tiny audience of 6 (7?) the cast of Waltz held nothing back. Our crowd of seven (six?) whistled and cheered. Because it’s good. And moving. And fresh. And has a young woman choreographer, Nomcebisi Moyikwa, working with young men dancers, renegotiating and reinterpreting gender, sexuality, stereotypes, societal judgments and male / men’s identity in a predominantly patriarchal South Africa.

But more than this, we are taken on a genuine journey with people whose humanness is revealed and felt. Waltz asks us to be accepting; asks us to open up to possibilities. A future where sexual and cultural and political and religious differences elicit no negative reaction. A dream? Sure. But why not?

Perhaps it’s still only the arts that can bring us to this point. I guess that’s why I keep coming back. Waltz is damned good. Not-to-be-missed stuff. It’ll shift your thinking and leave you moved.

– Sarah Roberson

More info & last show booked here.
See other Critter interactions and journo interventions here.

Waltz is choreographed by Nomcebisi Moyikwa, and the company is The Gatherings / Intlangano project: Mlondiwethu Dubazane, Rafé Green, Likhaya Jack, Masixole Heshu, Damian van Selm, Smangaliso Ngwenya.

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