the New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel
for women and girls. Click here to
see a sample of our products and a list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always performance
at its best.
Go back to Flash Reviews
Flash Review 1, 9-19:
Exhilaration of Youth
An Explosive "Mukishi" at the New Vic
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2000 Susan Yung
The sheer exhilaration
of seeing confident youths explode with energy is reason alone to
see Batoto Yetu in "The Mukishi" at the New Victory Theater, as
I did in a matinee Saturday. On top of that, you'll be provoked,
tested and physically moved by drummers, and transported with delightful
enormous masks and costumes. And if you have children or young friends,
take them along with the confidence that they'll enjoy it as much
as you will.
The story is a legend
of the Luba tribe (in Angola) about a great spirit who shows up
in times of trouble to protect the village. Directed and choreographed
by Julio Leitao, it is loosely enacted, but it gives some shape
to the program. Drummers begin the show, entering one by one, goading
the audience into a relaxed and curious state by playing a rhythmic
"Simon Says" and conversing amiably, using drumbeats instead of
words. When all four finally assemble, they fill the space with
a vibrant forest of beats.
The dancers file down
the aisle, their grass skirts brushing our elbows. The 20 performers
rotate with each performance, but the cast I saw consisted mostly
of girls, with all of the dancers 17 years old or younger. In general,
the level of performance was truly admirable; one girl in particular
(who seemed to be the youngest in the cast at perhaps seven years
or so) commanded the stage like nobility, taking charge as the caller
in a responsorial number. A male who appeared to be the oldest dancer
had incredibly long limbs and the ability to craft them into sharp,
The puppet elements of
the program were manifested in charming, oversized costumes: big
hoops for swaying hips; gazelle headdresses; Mukishis with elaborate
raggedy costumes and fiery eyes; and gigantic faces with yammering
hinged mouths set beside dancing painted banners.
As with many forms of
traditional dance from abroad, the movement is one element in the
context of many juxtaposed parts. African dance has its numerous
charms, chief among them nearly unbounded energy generated by contagious
percussion, and a wonderful inclusive unity. As in "The Mukishi,"
it often integrates life rituals into the performance, giving relevance
to art in daily life, and vice versa.
Batato Yetu, part of
the Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater, continues Friday
and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m., with matinees Saturday
at 2 and Sunday at noon. For more info, please visit the
New Victory web site.
back to Flash Reviews