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Review: The Sacrifice

Dada Masilo-The Sacrifice-Photo by Tristram Kenton-2700

By: Suzanne Cleave, TRP Reviewer


South Africa’s award-winning Dada Masilo takes us on a journey through joy and sorrow in her new piece of work, The Sacrifice, captivating the attention of every audience member throughout.

Dada has attracted attention from around the world for her innovative interpretations on classic ballets and by fusing different movement forms with contemporary dance to create a unique choreographic style.

Inspired by Igor Stravinsky’s ballet, The Rite of Spring, The Sacrifice sets up Dada as the female protagonist who is being led to her sacrifice.

With a stark stage and backdrop, Dada begins moving across the stage, her body responding to every beat of the music. As the backdrop changes to branches, she is joined by other dancers, who all move in sync with great energy and rhythm.

Dada and the dancers engage in Tswana dance, the traditional dance of Botswana, inspired by small animals, in particular a meerkat, often used in storytelling and healing ceremonies. In creating The Sacrifice, Dada wanted to explore ritual, what sacrifice meant to the Tswana people then and what it means now.

The performance is full of joy and is enhanced by the four musicians who remain on the side of the stage throughout and use instruments and their voices to lift the dancers, raising the tempo and adding some humour into proceedings.

In a post-show Q&A session, Dada said it was the first time she has been able to interlace with the musicians, creating something very special, a conversation between the two.

The many moments of silence are also important, particularly when it becomes clear that Dada is the chosen one. As the production gathers pace, the atmosphere gets darker and the tempo changes as she heads to her death. When she is reunited with singer Ann Masina, a mother figure, it’s very moving, as she falls to the ground and her demise is evident. Ann’s voice is hauntingly beautiful and full of emotion as she sings her lament, portraying how a mother feels having sacrificed her child.

Although many did not know what her words meant, it was a form of communication that transcended the words. As the other dancers returned to the stage with lilies to pay their respects to Dada, it was hard not to be moved.

The fusion between dancers, musicians and Ann Masina was incredible and the rapturous applause and standing ovation was well deserved. A beautiful performance that will stay with me long after the show has ended.

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