Figure of 8 Winter Season 2023: Set in Motion

Where and when: Baxter Golden Arrow Studio, July 6-15, 2023
Bookings: Webtickets
Featuring: Shaun Oelf, Ockert Prins, André Maarman and Lisakhanya Nongqongqo
Director: Grant van Ster
Choreography: Figure of 8, in collaboration with the cast
Creative team includes: Carin Bester, Andi Colombo, Nico Scheepers and Franco Prinsloo

“SET IN MOTION is a theatre dance production that investigates the internal and external forces that pulls us in various directions and sometimes even hinders our ability to live life to the fullest. ‘A body in motion will stay in motion, and a body at rest will stay at rest. Unless an external force changes something.”

I saw Set in Motion, last night, July 12, 2023 and the very short season ends on Saturday- July 15. Please go and see this extraordinarily beautifully rousing and immersive piece of dance theatre. The dance by Figure of 8 is, as always, exceptional and dazzling. Last night, the audience was vocal in its appreciation, with whoops of praise, throughout the performance, amazed at the sheer range of dance iconography and referencing to genres and styles: Twining and coiling of bodies; throwing; coupling, uncoupling, lifting, being lifted and supported, yielding, sublimating.  Set in Motion evokes visceral images of birth, re-birth and death; a knotting and threading of the physical and spiritual.

As with F08’s body of work, Set in Motion, hinges around a highly articulated conceptual arc. Marié Vogts, company manager of FO8 and stage manager, told me that in conceptualising Set in Motion, some of their discussions stemmed around the Fates in Greek Mythology: “Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos” who “were divinities in Greek mythology who presided over human life. Together, the Fates represented the inescapable destiny of humanity.” []

What is our destiny as we tread through birth, life and death? Can we be in the moment, in the liminal possibility of the power of our bodies to ground ourselves as we collide in the whirlpool of life? How much can we do when everything is moving at a fury of sound and matter and what does it all signify?  Perhaps, all we can do is thread fragments of our physical and spiritual existence together as we do our best to be in the moment.

It is an immersive experience as one sits, perched on the precipice of the set (created by artist Carin Bester), almost pulled into a vortex of sections of cloth which have been sewn, stitched and threaded – flanking the stage – demarcating the space and shrouding it.  The lighting by Andi Colombo heightens the sense of wrapping the space. At the start of the performance, I felt that we were sitting in the round, in the circle of cloth triangles. They remind me of sails of a ship, temporary structures, shelters, shielding people from the wind, providing a safe-haven. This is my interpretation. Chatting to people afterwards and many saw them as non-figurative objects and some said that they looked like spiritual beacons- beckoning one from here and now to ‘somewhere else’.

Set in Motion is richly nuanced and multi-layered and also playful. I love the clowning. I love the use of play. Watch out for the jump-rope/elastic game- whatever you call it. It is the game that children play all over the world – bound and tethered together by an elastic band: Bodies jump in and out of elastic bands. The balance can be disrupted at any time, when the rubber slacks. Bodies flip over and around each other, setting up illusions of lag effects as we watch. A body is there and then not there. We all fall over; together in a heap. We laugh and do it again. Or we enjoy the moment, as one; clumped together. Who is calling us and what will be next as we take our next steps?

The ambient and stirring sound design by Shaun Oelf, in collaboration with Fanco Prinsloo (original music) and voice-overs (text by Nico Scheepers – voices of the cast) is threaded into the motion and images. I want to see Set in Motion, again, so that I can get the full thrust of this extraordinarily intense and beautiful piece of dance theatre.

Synchronisation and cacophony. Figure of 8 Winter Season 2023: Set in Motion. Pic by Gys Loubser- supplied.

Figure of 8 Winter Season 2023: Set in Motion. Photographs by Gys Loubser- supplied.