It is undoubtedly one of the most renowned and most interesting contemporary African dance companies today. Created twenty years ago, Moving Into Dance presented three pieces of quite diverse inspiration, which strikingly confirmed its choreographic inventiveness and technical skills.
The opening piece, « Passage of rites », choreographed by Sylvia Glasser, the founder of the company, revisits the gestures of a Zoulou initiation ritual. This piece is striking not only for its minimalist aesthetic, and the energy of the dancers, which is both raw and controlled, and which is reminiscent of the ancestral warrior traditions, but also due to its original use of long rods. Bearing poles which they bang against the floor or one another, the dancers create both dance and music. Armed with these objects, which are choreographic and rhythmic tools unto themselves, the dancers manage to incarnate an elementary force, evocative of the mysteries that bind man to nature. The company’s masterpiece, « Gula Matari » (« The Birds »), choreographed by the artistic director and wonderful dancer Vincent Sekwat Mantsoe, transforms each dancer into a bird-being. One cannot fail to be fascinated by the simplicity and the precision of their disarticulated and jerky gestures, and by one of the most beautiful solos in the repertoire of contemporary dance in the world. This was undoubtedly the most memorable piece at the Masa 99.
Finally, « Layers of Time », choreographed by Gregory Vuyani Maqoma, reworks the South African miners’ boot dance. Making this object the central element of the narrative, the piece is once again striking for its inventiveness.
Moving Into Dance clearly stood out for its artistic maturity. It is true that this company, founded by the white choreographer, Sylvie Glasser in 1978, has already come along way. The company indeed keeps on winning awards, including the recent « RFI-Spectacle vivant » prize in 1998. Even though the choreographic language of the Glasser-Mantsoe duo may at times seem a little too polished, it nonetheless shows an unquestionable originality.
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