Performing Arts: Dance
September 26, 2022
Robyn Orlin’s New York City premiere delivers on her legacy of long and cryptic titles: And so you see… our honourable blue sky and ever enduring sun… can only be consumed slice by slice. The piece, presented by FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival at New York Live Arts, and performed by Albert Ibokwe Khoza is a powerhouse of solo performance art, as it runs a gamut across style and genre that is entirely transfixing.

Taking the seven deadly sins as a compositional road map, the performance is unconventionally staged with Khoza spending nearly the entire time facing away from the audience. A leather armchair sits a few feet from the first row and seats, and in it lays a body shrouded in strips of white fabric.

As the lights go down, video manager Thabo Pule begins to unwrap the motionless figure of Khoza. From the projected overhead view, the cloth gives way to the glistening cellophane wrapped tightly around his body. This constriction seems dangerous with only Khoza’s lips and shoulders escaping the binding, but his voice emanates from the plastic cocoon vacillating between soaring pure notes and rumbling growls.

With his arms released, Khoza brandishes a bowl of oranges and a knife, carefully peeling the first in an elegant spiral and vivisecting it, plunging each quarter of the dripping fruit into his mouth between bouts of tittering laughter as the knife’s edge darts around his mouth with excruciating precision.

Likewise, much of the performance exists in the closeup view of his body, fingers and hand bedecked in glittering jewelry flitting about a mirror or his virtuosically agile face leaping from animal impressions to serious glamorousness in the blink of an eye.

While painting on the makeup Khoza declares that he has an incredibly important date to prepare for. It is with none other than Vladimir Putin, whose involvement with Africa stretches back before Orlin’s conception of And so you see…in 2016. Khoza tells him: “my people dance with our weapons. Can yours make such beautiful sounds?” and the skirt he wears, made of woven whips and brightly colored fabric, lifts like the plumage of a peacock and swishes across the floor as he dances. Indeed, the sounds are beautiful.

Orlin’s superb composition with Khoza’s magnetic personality and exquisite vocal talent, make for an evening of art that is thoughtful and challenging while retaining a wonderful sense of humor.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

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