“Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance” the song by Mary Mary started playing in my head as I walked through the doors of the Barney Simon theatre at the Market Theatre on Wednesday night.
The cast of Confined were already set and seeing the thick ropes on the lead choreographer Lulu Mlangeni’s feet and hands just automatically changed the tune in my head.
The 45-minute production is inspired by the life of political stalwart, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Mlangeni, a principal dance teacher and the 2010 winner of So You Think You Can Dance, takes centre stage as she portrays the role of mam Winnie, as she’s affectionately known.
Mlangeni is accompanied by multi-award-winning dancers Sunnyboy Motau, Charlie van Rooyen and Smangaliso Ngwenya.
Mlangeni managed evoke the emotions of the struggle without uttering a word - it was only the sighs and moans and deep cries of sorrow as she fought through adversities that Madikizela-Mandela and many other women endured.
The production is not entirely choreography. The cast includes a quartet called iCompose, the gentlemen in 'Men in Black' form, and most intriguing were their heavenly voices.
Being the only female cast member, Mlangeni commanded respect as she beautifully executed her moves, portraying the life and times of Winnie Mandela.
In one scene, the two strong men pulled and pulled as she fought with all her might until there was no fight left in her.
She rested but never gave up, and as she rose from the ropes that were binding her, she danced her way into freedom. And despite the challenges, she carried confidence in her dance piece and passion that would have broken any kind of confinement.
The props must go to director, choreographers and musicians for putting together an incredible performance on the opening night, Wednesday, January 31.
It would be an injustice not to mention the sound and lighting crew for their ability to project amazing sound-effects and the visual effects.
In a nutshell, Confined is not for the faint-hearted.