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Afrovibes 2014: Dark Cell / Mana

Home > Birmingham > Dancing | Cultural Events | Performing Arts | Theatre
by dpm (subscribe)
dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
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Birmingham feels the Afrovibe
The Afrovibes Festival aims to shine a new light on South Africa and share its music, theatre, dance and culture with audiences in the UK.

In Birmingham this sees performances hosted by The Drum Arts Centre and mac but there are also productions and activities being staged across the country.

Aiming to look at all aspects of historical and modern South Africa, Afrovibes blends African and British performers.

At the mac, Friday October 24 saw a double bill of dance Broken Borders Arts Project's Dark Cell and ACE Dance and Music's Mana.

Created and performed by Themba Mbuli, Dark Cell was inspired by the prison experience of Robben Island.

With just Themba on stage, it is an intense and powerful piece which brings alive that prison experience. One moment Themba is pulling at his chains, the next he is hiding his head under a bucket almost afraid of what there is to see.

There is no hiding place in this production. Themba throws off his chains but he cannot be truly free. Dancing to a backdrop featuring black and white photographs of Robben Island, Themba responds to these images. When the backdrop is a line of naked men all facing the wall, he is prompted to strip off his clothes and turn to face the wall as well. He is still a part of that prison experience.

Dark Cell is matched with Mana which brings together choreography by ACE's Gail Parmel with movement vocabulary by South African Vincent Mantsoe.

afrovibes, south africa, dark cell, mana, birmingham, mac, drum

Inspired by the past and an age where mana (spirit) resides, the piece is draws on African dance and Shaman traditions. The cast of six perform what at times is quite a ritualised dance although at other moments individuals break free to express their inner self.

At its end, one dancer grasps for red sand which symbolises Shaman initiation and takes us back to the very essence of humanity.

For more information on Afrovibes click on

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Why? Experience South African arts
When: Oct 24-5
Phone: 0121 446 3232
Where: mac, Birmingham
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