Get a child in need a pair of shoes for free
!Aïa – From Cave to Sky
DIRECTOR: Phillipe Pelen Baldini
CAST: Themba Mbuli (taller), Isaak Rakotsoane (smaller), Thierry Moucazambo (narrator)
VENUE: Market Theatre
Featuring rich sound design and subtle lighting, !Aïa – From Cave to Sky is a thinkpiece, a gorgeous one at that.
I saw it at the National Arts Festival, so the staging might be slightly different for the Market Theatre, but the idea will translate no matter where they go.
It is billed as a transversal work between art, culture, science and traditional wisdom which does point to a certain level of didactic detachment in the exploration of the relationship between human beings and nature.
Specifically this is meant to be a dialogue about our origins, life and the living. This production doesn’t follow any conventional narrative structure or chronology of any sorts so do not expect some sort of beginning, middle and end, or storyline to guide you.
There is a narrator of sorts – Thierry Moucazambo nudges you in a particular direction, but points out right from the get-go that this is meant to be an experience, not a story.
“Aïa” is a San word that means “a special state of being” and this is an invocation of memory – do you remember when we spoke to the sky and the trees, asks Moucazambo.
Elements such as water and earth are incorporated into the performance, as are images of initiation rites and African dancing from various cultures.
Before matters get too airy fairy, Isaak Rakotsoane grounds it with his voice, his singing being a bridge between the ethereal ideas of conversing with the spirit of life and the reality of the now.
Music is inspired by traditional African sounds and mixed with classics from Mozart and Bach.
There is a certain level of detachment from the very idea of organic life, because all the images you are presented with are so clean and exact. The choreo- graphy is just exactly so, but not quite in the same way Cindy Acker’s choreography in Lanx and Obtus delved into the very basics of movement as she tries to discover where the energy in the body goes when a dancer does a specific move.
This felt more like trying to find a link between the imagery of traditional African dance, specifically that of the San, and what may or may not have been the impetus for the movement. Still, as experiences go, this is a beautiful one, filled with images and movements we associate with the San, as seen through an outsider’s lens.
It’s like a gorgeous picture of the Kalahari Desert, but it’s still just a two-dimensional picture.