ArtSpoken & Reviews

Xaba's Black! ...White? addresses many issues

Dance Forum
03/03/2010 11:04:21

Sibusiso Mkwanazi: When the late Michael Jackson released his famed Black or White music video in the Nineties, it was ahead of its time and addressed a social ill: racism.

Of course, he did go from being black to white himself. Fast forward to the 2010 FNB Dance Umbrella and Black!...White? makes Jackson's video look mediocre.

Black!...White? sheds light on an array of issues. It starts off with paranoia, typically seen in residential estates with high walls and around the clock security guards. Despite all of this, they still get burgled. This is depicted in the piece by a schizophrenic looking lady, played by Stacey Sacks, who, like most South Africans, wants things to be exactly the way she wants them. Of course, she does not get her way, Nelisiwe Xaba and Rob van Vuuren make sure of this. Dressed in black and white couture clothes designed by Carlo Gibson and Strangelove, representing racism, the duo wreak havoc in Sacks' life by rearranging her living room. Ironically, Xaba is dressed in a white outfit while van Vuuren parades in a black three piece suit.

The show really takes off when multimedia is employed. Videography, a projector, animation and reams of white duct tape produce a spectacle that will not be forgotten. The audience's eyes shift from the stage to the long drapes where images are projected onto them. With a black background and white clothes and props, Xaba and van Vuuren put on a creative skit that discusses religion, alcoholism, gun control and other social interactions. This is possibly the most innovative piece of dance being staged in South Africa right now. Most find it appealing because it has longevity. Different messages can be transmitted using the same technique. For example, it could be adapted for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, politics, theatre ...

The shift in what used to be ‘cool', which was being white in the apartheid government, to being black under the current administration, is illustrated through jazz, a predominantly black genre of music. Each time it is played, van Vuuren, who represents the black side of the story, is more animated than Xaba, the white perspective. In real life, all you have to do to see evidence of this is to monitor white boys at malls with their pants halfway down their legs listening to rap and black boys who skateboard and wear tight fitting jeans and have no idea what kwaito is. The joys of the rainbow nation.

Black!...White? is exactly what is perfect about South African dance. It is experimental, thinks out the box and makes the audience feel uncomfortable - in a good way. Nowhere does complacency settle in, which can mean losing the audience.

Michael Jackson would have wished he had made a music video remotely close to Black!...White? It achieves so much more than his did, with no spoken words at all.

Cast: Nelisiwe Xaba, Rob van Vuuren, Stacey Sacks
Director: Toni Morkel
Venue: Market Theatre, until March 4

Sibusiso Mkwanazi
FNB Dance Umbrella 2010

Related Event:
Dance Umbrella Africa
Dates: Saturday, 21st March 2020 - Sunday, 29th March 2020
Related Venue:
Market Theatre Complex, Newtown Johannesburg Gauteng South Africa