Saturday, 25 March 2017

REVIEW: Tavaziva in Africarmen: compellingly seductive

Tue 21 Mar
Bernie Grant Arts Centre
Tavaziva - Africarmen

Tavaziva's Africarmen returns on tour this Spring. Beginning the evening at Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Zimbabwean-born Artistic Director, Bawren Tavaziva, and founding member of The Place, Namron OBE, is joined by Marie McCluskey OBE in a pre-show talk. Tavaziva discusses Zimbabwe's restricted freedom of speech and his and Namron's passion for youth work. Tavaziva and Namron's shared desire to pass on the inspiration they received as young men is particularly striking.

After two heart warming works with boys from north London, we dive head first into Tavaziva's sexy recreation of Bizet's infamous Carmen. Bawren's interpretation swaps the original setting of southern Spain for an African oil rigging village, alive with military corruption. The shadow of an almost-phallic rusting oil derrick looms threateningly on stage, a foreshadow of what's to come for our tragic love triangle.  

Dancers Lisa Rowley & Carmine De Amicis in Africarmen (PC: Dillon Rose)
Flexed wrists, percussive qualities and polyrhythms point towards Tavaziva's Zimbabwean roots and his training with Tumbuka Dance Company. Neatly tied up with contemporary and ballet, Tavaziva fuses his Zimbabwean heritage in Africarmen, to comment on political and challenging themes- many of which cannot be spoken of in Zimbabwe. 

The pace is unforgivingly fast; each act brims with energy, the tension builds a notch higher with each change of scene. Rolling hips, undulating spines and Composer Fayyaz Virji's throbbing score make for a very very sexy Africarmen.

Dancers Theo Samsworth & Lisa Rowley in Africarmen (PC: Manoj Nair)
The cast of Africarmen (PC: Joseph Bisat Marshall)

Tavaziva's dancers carry the choreography with strength. Carmen, danced by Lisa Rowley, is seductive and powerful. Her presence consumes the stage, as she sinks into deep lunges and plunges into bottomless second pliés, indulging in the gentle fall and rise. Equally, Theo Samsworth, dancing Mhondiwa (Tavaziva's lascivious answer to Don José), is compelling and tempting in his delivery.

We follow Carmen exchange one man for another, slipping between her desire for love and lust, until her story comes to its destructive end. Africarmen is an explosion of pulsing sensuality and energy- the strong cast do not hold back in their attack. While there is room for a tighter fusion of styles, Africarmen is breathtakingly exciting.

Maya Pindar

Read Maya's interview with Bawren Tavaziva here.
Africarmen is showing next in Poole, Ipswich and Bath. Visit Tavaziva's website for full dates and tickets.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

BOOK REVIEW: With Ballet In My Soul - an Autobiography by Eva Maze

With Ballet in My Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario is set to be released this spring, published by Moonstone Press LLC
Hailing from Romania, Eva Maze's story begins in Bucharest 1922. After a brief battle with scarlet fever, Maze knew from the outset that she would unlikely become a ballerina. But her affection for dance didn't disappear with her dreams of dancing. Following the rise of fascism in Romania, Maze's family made their first move- to America.  

From here, we travel to New York, London, New Delhi, Frankfurt, Berlin, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Munich, Corfu, Paris and finally, Florida.  

Maze recollects amusing anecdotes, weaving intimate details about herself and her family into the narrative. Halfway through the memoir it feels as though I'm sat down, talking to Maze myself- there is something personal and honest about With Ballet In My Soul.

The autobiography steers us through pivotal historical moments, including the aftermath of World War II, Indian independence, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Greek Military Junta and the rise and fall of Pan American World Airways. Maze's depiction of these events, through the lens of her pursuits, brings her story to life. 

With Ballet In My Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario by Eva Maze

Maze's long and illustrious career as a producer is distinguished by her affiliations with diverse artists such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, José Limón Dance Company, Kathakali Dance Theatre and Kabuki Theatre of Japan, to name a few. The changing cultures of each country Maze has traveled to seems to have inspired much of her work. However, towards the close of the autobiography, Maze explains that moving from place to place can feel like a curse:
Because your identity is often put into question. [...] There are times when you feel you belong both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. [...] You find yourself wondering who you are. [...] Many of us still continue to struggle with where we do, in fact, belong.
In addition to Maze's evident strength in coordinating successful productions, her ability to embrace diversity and variety in her work is striking. Maze lived through a time of significant political and social change; a time which saw great changes in the arts. It seems that Maze's experiences of different cultures and societies shaped her both personally and professionally.

For more information, please visit Moonstone Press LLC