Underground Dance Theatre is at the forefront of redefining dance in South Africa, creating progressive and innovative works. Their latest production, In Opstanding, is a masterclass in inter-disciplinary alliance, with music, voice and movement given equal footing in purveying concept. The fact that last Friday it was performed at the beautiful Youngblood art gallery added even more to this already multi-faceted performance.
Directed and choreographed by Kristina Johnstone and Thalia Laric, In Opstanding uses Adrian More’s song cycle to explore the fragility of change. Drawing on iconic Afrikaans poetry, More’s composition is performed by pianist Coila-Leah Ederstein and Fleur du Cap award-winning soprano Robin Botha, and is projected into space through the movement of Cilna Katzke and Thalia Laric.
Starting in silence with all four performers walking through the space, the collaborative tone of the piece is set, with no partitioning of performer-specific space. Sat at a grand piano, Ederstein is obviously more static yet the other three interact with her at the piano and Botha occupies the rest of the space just as much as Katzke and Laric. Botha’s voice carries the audience from the first resonating note to the final breath but it is her ability to story-tell and connect with the audience that really stands out. Choreographically, the almost mathematical patterning and exquisite unison of movement is mesmerising with the circular pathways and repetition enhancing the cyclical composition. The movement vocabulary itself challenges expectations as it is formalist yet at the same time very pedestrian; complementing the classical accompaniment yet refusing to conform to these traditional aesthetics.
In Opstanding is an engaging and intellectual exploration of form and concept, allowing the audience to choose which art form to watch by placing them all on stage, yet forcing them to recognise all elements as one through their constant interaction. The energy and dynamism of the piece plateau a little towards the end, but nonetheless In Opstanding remains an intriguing and exciting exploration of inter-disciplinary collaboration.
- Shirley-Anne Bezuidenhout