REVIEW: HATCH- A DANCE EXPERIENCE

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This country’s abundance of ‘home-grown’ talent is finally receiving the exposure and reverence it has always deserved. For far too long, local performing artists only existed within the shadows of American and European standards and our artistic gifts were often overlooked.

Instead of being encouraged to explore their own unique individuality, local artists were required to emulate overseas conventions. But the acumen of local audiences is maturing at last and there is a growing appreciation for the brilliance of our own South African stars.

The scintillating Mamela Nyamza is a worthy member of our country’s burgeoning theatrical constellation. Her stage presence is spellbinding, her charisma is irresistible and her gift as a dancer is undeniable.

I was totally entranced throughout her performance of Hatch at Cape Town’s On Broadway. The clarity and fluidity of her evocative choreography is truly inspired.

The press release describes this programme as “a dance experience portraying critically-acclaimed Mamela Nyamza’s life story” and the first half of the evening is devoted to the various stages of this young woman’s personal development.

Beginning with a symbolic portrayal of her birth, she poignantly relives scenarios of her progress through childhood and adolescence.

The inevitable loss of virginity and self-assertive claiming of womanhood are vividly evoked and emotionally moving. And as she navigates her way through this personal journey, she highlights the challenging social issues that have confronted her – such as custom, tradition, marriage, motherhood and sexual identity.

It is the story of a modern-day Xhosa woman who refuses societal suppression and chooses to follow her heart instead. Her final discovery of a fulfilling love-relationship with another woman (portrayed by Ananda Fuchs) provides a fitting climax of positive hopefulness.

The second half of the show comprises three separate pieces – the poetic imagery of A Woman In Somalia, with its haunting vocal accompaniment; a stunningly symbolic Baroque-parody of womanhood imprisoned within the web of an amazingly voluminous red skirt; and Mamela’s now-famous interpretation of The Dying Swan (for which she received a FNB Vita Dance Umbrella Award in 2000).

Mamela Nyamza’s Hatch deserves great success. I heartily congratulate On Broadway (Russell Shapiro Management) for the wonderful diversity of its choice in theatre productions. This venue continues to provide Cape Town audiences with quality entertainment.

Hatch is on at On Broadway, 88 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town, until April 19.
Phone 021 – 424 1194 or visit www.onbroadway.co.za.

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