Albert Einstein famously said, "I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” That day may have arrived.

With our identities today increasingly being shaped by our online presence, social media users construct online alter personas for themselves that only live in cyber space.

These personas invariably are only reflections of the best parts of our lives and are not accurate representations of ourselves as a whole. They present to the online world only a small part of our actual lives. We portray ourselves as someone we’re not.

The downside to this dual personality is that individuals often experience symptoms of anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, as triggered by their need for their cyber personas to be liked. The more likes we get, the better we feel about ourselves.

This need for approval affects our sense of self-worth. We are persistently concerned about our online personas, as presented in our posts and communication with others.

We are encouraged to form and cherish artificial bonds over actual friendships, which harbour a false sense of connection.

Sadly the online personas get to dictate how to feel about ourselves and the world, narrowing down our human potentials, limiting us to being no more than cardboard cut-outs.

Einstein calls this modern creature an idiot. Choreographer Owen Lonzar and theatre director Sylvaine Strike call it DOLL.

DOLL is this creative duo’s much anticipated offering at Dance Umbrella this year.

“DOLL is a perspective on the era of the selfie,” Lonzar said, “the age of social media and online dating and the disconnectedness it has brought about. Are women presenting themselves as dolls for objectification because men see them that way, or do men see women as dolls because of how women display themselves?” he asked.

Lonzar said that society is all about swiping left or right, the number of likes a photo receives, how many followers you have. Where is the humanity in it all? DOLL explores the inability to have successful relationships, the freak-show element of social media and the collection of one-night stands.

What make this collaboration exciting are the artists’ respective fields of expertise. Lonzar, best known for his choreography in the commercial dance industry, recently returned from Australia, where he was the creative and stage director of the LGBTQIA Awards. 

Strike remarked that Lonzar’s talent for choreography was by no means limited to pure entertainment, having witnessed some of his profoundly artistic works.

Strike, a prolific theatre director with a keen interest in the art of movement, recently returned from Woordfees in Stellenbosch, where she premiered her highly acclaimed production of Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class.

“We use dance, physical theatre and clowning to entertain and tell the story”, Lonzar said.

"Entertainment value is most important to both Sylvaine and I and humour is something we feel is of great value.”

The cast comprises Donovan Yaards (an androgynous character), actors Craig Morris and Ryan Dittmann, dancer Thapelo Kotlolo and eight female dancers.

This highly imaginative and entertaining production promises to be a Dance Umbrella highlight and should not be missed. 

* DOLL will be performed at Wits Theatre at 8pm on Saturday 17 March and 2.30pm on Sunday, March 18.

Pictures: Owen Lonzar

IOL