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Susan Weinrebe
Performance Reviews
African
The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago
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Illinois
Chicago, IL
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Association NOA/Company Vincent Mantsoe - Men-Jaro

by Susan Weinrebe
March 9, 2007
The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago
1306 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605
312.344.8300
Association NOA/Company Vincent Mantsoe
(www.sekwaman.co.za/about.htm)

Men-Jaro

See candids from after the show.
The curtain is drawn aside with a sound like rain falling in a tropical night. A female chants, and fog drifts across the low stage. Three women and two men are clad in loose pants and tank tops the colors of African earth and flowers. They carry sticks as they slowly wend across the stage in attitudes of Tai-Chi forms. The light comes up. Day has dawned

There is no music. The two men stand forward and begin stepping with fluid arms, vocalizing and breathing accompaniment for themselves. One shadows the motions of the other and the physical contrast between them is a commentary on the nature of manhood: tall and lanky or shorter and more containing, man contests man.

Indigenous instruments from South Africa: a calabash with a bow attached the uhadi; pan pipes; umrhubhe the mouth bow; ixilongo a flute; nyatiti a harp; shakers; rhythm sticks; a thumb piano and of course all manner of drums, flavor the air. Slowly, very slowly, an elephant walks from wing to wing.

One dance blended into another with movements foreign yet familiar. Twyla Tharp and yoga balance, graceful ballet hands – this time the men's, moving with the spirit of holy possession, choreographed pairs and ever added and subtracted performers, the dances changed while retaining elements from one to another applied in exponential variation.

Most memorable was the solo dance to frenzy with the spiraling volume of drums and calls of the musicians, "Os, os," urging Vincent Mantsoe to a crescendo of motion. As if emerging from a trance, the comforting presence of his friend, Lesole Z. Maine, held him on this side of a spirit divide, clasping his hands until calm returned. Here was the essence of Men-Jaro or friendship.

Remarkable musicianship contributed to the transporting effect of the evening. Under the leadership of Anthony Caplan and his original compositions, the musicians played not one instrument but many, including intricate clapping, ululation, and what sounded like throat singing and double breathing on the flute. Priscilla 'Sasa' Magwaza used her many-hued voice as constant element in bringing the audience to a stage-sized piece of new Africa.



Conceived, Choreographed, Directed: Vincent Sekwati Koko Mantsoe
Original Sound Score: Anthony Caplan
Lighting Design: Laurent Pirard
Costume Design: Bwana Gulab
Company Manager: Renée Robinson
Management and Production: MultiArts Projects & Productions/MAPP
Co-Directors and Producers: Ann Rosenthal, Cathy Zimmerman
Associate Producer: Jordana Phokompe
Dancers: Aude Arago, Lesole Z. Maine, Cécile Maubert Mantsoe, Vincent Sekwati Koko Mantsoe, Meri Otoshi
Musicians: Mduduzi Buthelezi, Anthony Caplan, James Julian Cloete, Priscilla 'Sasa' Magwaza, Michelle Smith
Public Relations: Jill A. Chukerman
Association NOA/Company Vincent Mantsoe

Association NOA/Company Vincent Mantsoe

Photo © & courtesy of John Hogg


Association NOA/Company Vincent Mantsoe

Association NOA/Company Vincent Mantsoe

Photo © & courtesy of John Hogg


Association NOA/Company Vincent Mantsoe

Association NOA/Company Vincent Mantsoe

Photo © & courtesy of John Hogg

ExploreDance.com is sponsored by
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