Koromanti Arts and Noyam
by Thea Nerissa Barnes
October 21, 2003 – Lilian Bayliss Theatre, London.
"Elements" is a
collaboration between "H" Patten and F. Nii-Yartey’s Dancers
of Noyam. "Elements" is contemporary Africanist dance expression
that merges the sacred with the secular drawing on African and Caribbean
dance aesthetics. An episodic dance composition, the varied dances illustrate
a host of signs and symbols from cultural experiences vested in the African
Diaspora. Each episode portrays or gives poetic, metaphoric renditions
inspired by wind, earth, fire, and water. The ensemble of dancers displayed
the kind of conviction and intensity that could only have been gained
through rigorous rehearsal to infuse each movement, each thrust of shoulder
or hip, flip of hand, use of mask, and twist of cloth with significance.
The ensemble move by touching
the earth, laying on each other, jumping and calling out, or reaching
with stretched hands. A video is presented on the cyclorama. This is the
'Dance for Camera' video that was the starting point of the collaboration
between 'H' Patten and F. Nii-Yartey that fostered the dance work "Elements."
Complementing each other, what is shown in the video are the dancers of
Noyam, the Contemporary African Dance Institute and Performance Company
run by Nii-Yartey. These dancers perform in the sand and grass the same
choreography they perform here at the Lilian Baylis.
When a dancer takes a moment to improvise, the solo becomes an idiosyncratic expression and unique to that person. Sarah Naa Ayeley Okine is lithe but a powerhouse of dynamic energy and thrust. At points she hurls herself through space and is caught by Tetteh. This same courage laced with dramatic urgency is evidenced throughout with both men and women as they jump seemingly to fly into each other’s arms or throw themselves full force into the floor to roll and stand. There is extraordinary technical skill required here to get the timing right to portray the exact expression.
"Water" was a men’s
dance beginning with four men carrying chrome caldrons containing dryed
leaves and dragging a barrel of water. This men’s dance contained intricate
as well as bombastic moves. It ended with the men drenching themselves
with water upstage left while Okine poured sand out of a small earthen
jug downstage right.
Edited by Jeff.
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