Iceland receives a lesson in African choreography.
When a man is on the road to self-discovery he finds himself in a fishing town of Olafsvik, whose temperatures reach below -5 degrees, trying to warm the hearts of the audience with African cultural dances.
Wits graduate Oupa Sibeko is currently in Iceland performing two pieces, one of which he wrote during his honours course with the Wits Art theatre called Fear and Longing and the other Traumland-Iqhawe .
Fear and Longing was first showcased at the Roodeport Youth Arts Festival as part of his physical theatre course based on the “containment of the body”.“This is my first gig as an independent artist…this of course has to do with my training at Wits,” said Sibeko.
Traumland-Iqhawe explores the complex nature of memory and loss. “It takes the audience from a journey of riches to rags,” said Sibeko. In Fear and Longing Sibeko explores the emotional journey of fear. The dance works with abstract movements and images through his references to African cultural dancing and rituals.
Sibeko said that the training he received at Wits has taught him to be “open and fuse different mediums of art in [his] my work,” adding that along with his grandmothers folk tales have aided him in “crafting [his] my work.”
The former visual arts student began the independent journey as an attempt to explore different genres of dance as he does not want to “limit and box” himself. Audience reception can be “demanding” said Sibeko, referring to the eight shows he performed. “An audience that does not know you and is honest to you and views you on an international scale”, can be “intimidating”.
He describes the audience as “active agents” that influence the delivery of the work through responses such as clapping, sympathy, fear, joy and pain.
Sibeko was in Iceland from January 13 to March 10 and will be there again, from June to mid-July. During this period Sibeko will be hosting workshops where he will be teaching afro-fusion dance styles, incorporating African dance will classic choreography at schools in Olafsvik and Hellisandur.