A few thoughts on ‘Focus Pull’

29 Sep 2014 - 12:30

Rehearsal photo by Eugene Rabe

The choreography exam piece by Tania Vossgatter (UCT School of Dance) titled ‘Focus Pull’, which was performed at the company studio tonight (25 September), topped other UCT SoD students choreographic works showcased at the company studio and the Baxter Music Hall earlier this year in a number of points in my humble opinion.

Before the performance even started one could only be impressed by the quality, effort and general high standard the advertising through social media had. The rehearsal photos by Eugene Rabe were gorgeous and those alone already made me want to see the work. I also very much liked the poster design. There are many full length professional performance that fall short were ‘Focus Pull’ went the extra length.

The performance happened in a space without seating and as the audience entered the room the three female and one male dancer had already taken position throughout the space and started the performance a moment before the door closed. The room was dominated by four screens with different cut outs that formed a square in the centre of the room. And there were two solid screens that divided the room further. The audience was free to and encourage to roam the space and the dancers performed in various spaces among the audience to move to the inside of the box for a large part of the performance but broke out of the confinement numerous times. The solid screens were moved to block the view in different ways. As the audience moved around different parts of the performance could be seen through different frames and thereby shifting the focus. It was in fact vital to move in order to experience the performance.

Rehearsal photo by Eugene Rabe

The play with different framings and shifting focus that originated in the concept of making of a movie was very well translated. In a stage performance the audience can generally choose where to look and focus but tonight the two solid screens and the different cut outs in the screens forming the square, to a point dictated which parts could be viewed and which were hidden. So the audience had to move to get past those restrictions but was met with different ones right away. I absolutely loved the play with space and not having a clear definition of it and for it to change just when you thought you had discovered a sweet spot.

The soundscape, composed by Richard Vossgatter, made up of film projector noise and the sounds of walking, worked fantastic with the piece. I loved that it stayed with the metaphor of film making, that started with the screens that symbolised the framing. The film projector noise was where it all ended when it was still analogue. And which movie soundtrack does not have the sounds of walking? A simple but rather brilliant concept.

So this work certainly went way past others works in concept, stage set and soundscape.
And with Angeliki Theodorou, Odille de Villiers, Shirley-Anne Bezuidenhout and Kopano Maroga there was an excellent cast too. I very much enjoyed seeing Angeliki, Odille and Shirley-Anne perform after not having seen them on stage for quite some time. And has there ever been someone not enjoying Kopano perform? Probably not.

So the performance quality and the level of rehearsal might very well come up on top too.

Now I would love to see this piece grow from the 15 minutes it was today (because it was an exam work) to 45 minutes. I believe that could be achieved through repetition alone, which would give the audience a chance to see more of it while probably still not all and would to a point force others to move or just see repetition. And I would prefer the soundscape a bit louder and more prominent.

Congratulations Tania that was a real treat albeit way to short. But I guess that’s the nature of treats - never enough.
And congratulations Angeliki, Odille, Shirley-Anne and Kopano for wonderful performances.

Article by Klaus Warschkow. Images by Eugene Rabe.

This article originally appeared on Cape Town Dance and is reproduced with the kind permission of Klaus Warschkow.