Bawren Tavaziva’s BOY’S KHAYA invites you to travel through time and space through the synthesis of the performers’ bodies. The show moves through themes of connection and separation, the performers dancing in patterns of alternating urgency and controlled calm. It invites you into an intimate space of tension at the boundary of time. The performance brings the history of the apartheid regime to re-exist in the present, allowing the viewer to poignantly feel the injustice. Time is surpassed, the hypnotic music and pulsating dance rhythms placing the audience into a trance state. Travelling into a space where there is no time brings the currently existing apartheid to the viewers’ attention. It connects the racism we see in the world today to the apartheid regimes of a few years ago and encourages the viewer to see that, whilst progress has been made, it is not enough.
The dance is split into eight sections, with the performers metamorphosing into one being in some sections and in others being totally alone. Watching the performance makes you mirror this undulating wave of connection within yourself, and I would feel hopeful, vulnerable, and helpless in waves of emotion.
The dance allows you to acknowledge the chaos in humanity, and with this acknowledgement you clearly see that there is hope for a world of equality. The spoken word emphasises the themes of each dance section and guides your thoughts in relation to the rhythm of the dance and the music. In the section ‘Black Angel’, there is a real sense of the human within the body; we are all composed of these bodies, yet we must not forget that something immensely vaster than our flesh is shimmering.
The final section, ‘super powers’, addresses how racism is still present throughout the world. It is used by ‘the system’ to the detriment of humanity. The performance finishes with an execution; the movement of the dancers shooting is jagged and contrasted with the fluid dancing that comprises most of the show. The fluid folding of the executed shows the audience through not protesting to end racism we are voluntarily encouraging the destruction of humanity.
I think the performance could have been improved with a greater involvement of the spoken word, for it was sparser than I expected. The spoken word was not always utilised in the best way; at one point going on a tangent about pronouns. The speaker includes ‘they’ when listing ‘he’ and ‘she’ yet explains their inability to understand the meaning and necessity of ‘they’. It is something which they deem ‘contemporary’, and I understood the description to invalidate non-binary people. This tangent was unnecessary and made me uncomfortable as it came across as a lack of acceptance of non-binary pronouns. Whether this was intended I do not know, however it bothered me a lot.
The performance is characterised by two dichotomies: vulnerability and individual strength and helplessness and hope. The performance ending with an execution, and a metaphorical execution of hope, accentuates the importance and urgency for systemic change, and charged the audience with energy and inspiration to bring about an end to racism.
Image via Capital Theatres