Theatre review: Scars

Posted: January 23, 2010 in Theatre & Event Reviews and Interviews
Directed by: Asanda Phewa Phewa’s
Choreography by:   Celeste Botha and Megan Erasmus, Ina Wichterich-Mogane, and  Marlin Zoutman. 
Musical Score:  Denzil Erasmus
Starring:  Celeste Botha and Megan Erasmus
Review:  Astrid Stark


First published in The Cape Times 22 January ‘10

Dancing is love made visible.

During the performance of Scars two dancers use movement, music and dialogue to explore the meaning and misconceptions of being coloured and female.  At this point some readers’ eyes may start to glaze over at the thought of yet another identity crises being played out on stage. The struggle of coming to terms with our identity and gender may be as old as time but it is ever present and constantly evolving.  What is exceptional about Celeste Botha and Megan Erasmus’ performance, is their sometimes hilarious, sometime angry, but always sensual and mesmerizing revival of the old themes of belonging and search for the self.  Both women started dancing before they turned six and neither has looked back since. Botha and Erasmus have had successful stints with Jazzart and performed in Backstage, but this is the first time that they worked together on their own creation.  And like a thoroughly modern version of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, Botha and Erasmus play perfectly off against each other.  Their mutual respect and love for dancing is made visible with every swing of the hip and the perfect harmonising of their beautifully choreographed movements.   Sensual and sometimes angry they use their bodies to express their feelings of longing and loss. 

Celeste Botha, on the left, with Megan Erasmus

The performance starts of a little bewildering and fragmented which is surely intentional as it describes feelings of confusion, fury and resentment.   A saxophonist strolls onto the stage and with an evocative tune he rouses the two women from a bench.   A suitcase is snapped open and a woman’s disembodied voice tells a distressing story of her search for her father.   It, rightfully, is a little uncomfortable to watch and it’s only once the narrative moves on, and becomes more supple, that you breathe out and immerse yourself into the beauty of the dancers’ movement.

Both women started their dancing careers with ballet and though they have long since hung up their ballet slippers in favour of contemporary dancing, their disciplined yet graceful movements reveal their early schooling.   Erasmus’ hand is in a cast, a rehearsal injury, and part witness to a dance routine that is both energetic and daring.

For me one of the most pleasing aspects of a contemporary dance performance is that you don’t necessarily have to try and ‘find’ the writer or choreographer’s meaning.  A well choreographed performance delivered with intention, dedication and enjoyment, will surely resonate with each member of the audience as we search for our own meaning in what we see and hear in front of us.  Scars certainly has all the finest qualities one could ask for of a contemporary dance production.   And if on a Friday night, after a long week, you don’t want to even think at all, then this performance is perfect for you too as you may allow yourself to be swept away by the visual feast.  Jazz saxophonist and composer, Denzil Erasmus provides the hauntingly beautiful score. 

Asanda Phewa Phewa’s direction is original and exciting and the choreography is collaboration between Botha and Celeste, Jazzart choreographer Ina Wichterich-Mogane, and co-choreographer Marlin Zoutman.  Veteran director-choreographer Alfred Hinkel is overseeing the production.

Scars marks the debut of Erasmus and Botha’s new production company, Breakthru Entertainment, an entity that will give voice to their artistic vision.  After many years of acting as the conduit for other peoples’ artistic vision, Botha and Erasmus says they are excited about the opportunity of finally giving expression to their own ideas and their particular dance aesthetic.  If their debut collaboration is anything to go by, we may look forward to more exciting work from these two passionate and experienced dancers.

 Scars is staged in Artscape’s Arena Theatre until January 23.   2010. Tickets are R60 each, or R30 for block bookings of 20 or more. Bookings can be made through Computicket or Artscape’s Dial-a-Seat. The End

  1. Campbell Manyesa says:

    Well, i just wanna start off by applauding the two of you girls Megan and Celeste, what a great job u guys doing and all who is involved keep it up guyz. Let the music play, movement shall follow therfore Dancing will never die. Keep up the great job xoxooxoxooooo!!!


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