South African iconoclastic choreographer Robyn Orlin, acclaimed in Europe and Africa, has built up a repertoire of multi-layered performances that veer out of conventional dance into complex creations that incorporate diverse media like text, video and plastic art.
Her absurdist, humourous yet provocative takes on dance and performance art have resulted in shocked reactions from unamused audiences. Yet, the same body of work has won her awards around the world, most notably the French National Order of Merit in 2009. Where Orlin truly pushes the envelope is how she continually questions and challenges the myths and truths of her apartheid-scarred homeland, weighted as it is with its complex social and political history.
And So You See ... continues in that vein as Orlin enlists the help of South African dancer Albert Ibokwe Khoza, a fascinating new-generation performer who also happens to be an inyanga, a traditional herbalist in South Africa. In an enchantment of pure presence, he portrays the excesses of the seven deadly sins in a "requiem to humanity" on one level. On another level, he crystallises issues playfully and ironically like "Why is it not possible to reconcile individuality with traditional culture? Why is it not possible to be a university graduate and practice traditional religion and medicine?"
Watch as he morphs from traditional healer to flamboyant performer to meditative divinity to cocooned insect. Whether bedecked in feathers or wrapped in cellophane, Khoza is a revelation, effectively embodying all that Orlin evokes in her work. The graceful and the grotesque, the refined and the vulgar, the sublime and the sad – you will be brought to the extremes and back again.