South African Indian dance choreographer Jayespree Moopen is taking Indian classical dance to bold new levels. Her distinct style has come full circle in the dance performance Tribhangi – an afro-indo dance/music spectacular which leaves you thrilled from start to finish, resulting in a new genre of dance blended with true African rhythm which defies all categorization of bastardised art. Moopen’s departure from the classical to the contemporary is innovative and daring, and is paving the way for a new a generation of choreographers and dancers.
Bollywood, as India’s biggest export and exploding locally, is known all over the world for its outlandish costumes and melodies of love, the campy close-ups of eye-lash batting women platonically embracing tersely built men, and the repeated recitation of the theme, “love will conquer all.” Tribhangi is none of the above.
Tribhangi is a stunning performance marked by complicated footwork, rapid spinning followed by sudden stillness, inverted posturing of the dancing body and slicing hand gestures. Dedication is evident throughout the performance through the cast’s facial expressions, breathtaking spins and intricate footwork.
The balanced male and female ensemble in Tribhangi frequently appears in inverted upside-down positions, urging the audience to view and question their surroundings from an alternative vantage point. The performance is augmented by an impressive musical ensemble: vocalist Monali Shome. The soulful voice of the Monali lingered in the air long after the song had ended. Tribhangi is a complex performance that gives one insight into the human condition through movement, storytelling, song and symbolism relevant of the rich Indian and African history and culture.
Kalpana Rangan, former journalist for Mail & Guardian who walked the walk and talked the talk “enjoyed the Tribhangi dance performance especially the first two parts. It is really great to see Indo-African dance in its best form. The show presented Indian classical, African tribal and hip-hop beautifully blending and emerging richer with the fusion. The dancers effortlessly went through the soft and hard foot movements, hand gestures and ‘abinaya’ (expressions) with grace. The music too was enriching. All together it was a entertaining performance.’”
The visit to the Fringe Theatre at the Johannesburg Civic turned out to be quite a short afternoon of swank for me as the vibrantly eclectic performance closed within an hour with a resounding acknowledgement from the patron and lovers of theatre.