Dance review: Locked Doors, Behind Doors by Indoni Dance Arts and Leadership Academy, Cape Town, South Africa; premiered May 1, 2021, FREE to watch on YouTube
|What: Locked Doors, Behind Doors by Indoni, premiered on Labour Day South Africa, May 1, 2021 on YouTube – and is available -FREE – on YouTube Direct viewing link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8t1yRYkutDc Tickets: No charge but donations appreciated: Paula Kelly on 083 267 3029 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org|
I felt emotionally wrecked, after watching Locked Doors, Behind Doors, live streamed on May 1, Labour Day, 2021. Choreography by Sbonakaliso Ndaba, is tempered by an urgency to break out. It is a howl; a lament; a call to band together.
This performance took place, in front of the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum, Lwandle, The Strand. The museum is a memorial to hostels which housed single men, during the Apartheid era. Men were stripped of their identity, families and community. The hostel in Lwandle was established in 1958. The hostel system was “dismantled” in 1994 but this building remains as a marker. Watching the performance, on Labour Day, it was apparent how the current landscape is still very much about rupture. People were clustered, watching. In the background, one could catch glimpses of washing lines, cars, onlookers gazing at what was going on. Locked Doors, Behind Doors is not a comfortable piece. It speaks of disruption – emotional and physical and being locked out of society. The dancers use tyres and chairs as props. The tyres conjure up a bunch of images- protest- howling- rage- domesticity – home. The chairs are possibly seats to rest on but are also weapons; a means of defiance. The chairs are used like shields. Bodies are joined, a mass of resistance on the one hand but also one that gets repeatedly pushed down. Look at the screenshot on this page and you will see the figures, bowed down, balancing tyres. It is a stirring image, which speaks to me of supplication and at the same time defiance. This piece is multi-layered and knotted with images. It was a lot to take in and watching in a locked down South Africa, on the digital stage, headphones on, cast my gaze directly into the performance. There was no peripheral gaze – the ability look around –as I might do if I was on site.
This setting is bleak– in front of the labour museum. It is a memorial to the brutal legacy of migrant urban labour – in South Africa. The system may have been dismantled but labour remains a burning issue in this country – with many who are not paid a fair wage. During, the pandemic, labour has outstripped demand and the vulnerable have been are being taken advantage of by those who have the means to hire or fire. Move through Cape Town and one sees the despair, on the streets, with those who have been locked out by the pandemic. Juxtaposed with the Lwandle streets is scenic Cape Town. How does one put those two together? Many do not. Under the steerage of Sbonakaliso Ndaba, the dancers have become immersed in the physical landscape and the history of the museum. They tug us into the conversation – an important conversation- through dance theatre. This goes beyond site-responsive theatre. Could we say that it is site activated theatre? It is intensely site-responsive – with stirringly beautiful dance- conjuring up chilling images and narratives. This is not chilling in a good way – as in chilling on the beach – but chilling in an unnerving way – and that is what it is meant to be- to make us look and feel and reflect on how the past ghosts every step that we take.