Kwesi: Dyna-Mix occurred at Sadler’s Lilian Baylis Theatre 15 March 2003. Kwesi Johnson with Jazztronaut Collective created on the spot movement and soundscapes that offered the audience the opportunity to orchestrate the show through written instruction, verbal or physical participation. Johnson finds a synergy between varied vocabularies of movement, between varied music and vocal verbalisations. Kwesi also draws on his experiences and training in contemporary dance, social and street dance forms, and martial arts. Kwesi is inspired by words and rhythms and their poetic use in constructing a performance environment where the performer inspires the spectator to participate. The performers jittered to begin, inducted their varied expertise of move, groove, croon, pontificate, compete, preach, teach, illustrate, participate, then the interaction of audience members whose suggestions coaxed the performers to create on the spot movement, verbal, or hand drawn vignettes. A real call response, antiphonal interaction in the great Africanist aesthetic way the audience joined in the revelry entering the stage space and getting down with the artists adding his and her individual energies to the mix.
Currently Kwesi engages DJs and multidisciplinary performance artists in a joint effort to push the inventiveness factor in jazz fusion, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop and urban dance expressions. Working as a conglomerate the performers represent a melting pot of several disciplines including mime, physical theatre, urban art, and poetry that spin into an elaborate theatrical event. Kwesi’s works evolve through an improvisational process before your eyes. Finding inspiration in on the spot material generated from the performers themselves or gathered from audience members, this is process as the product. How the performers work together personifies an infrastructure that takes time to build confidence, takes time to refine. The work’s integrity depends on spur of the moment, invented on stage material that is channelled through carefully coordinated improvisatory acts. Kwesi draws from the reality he lives in; his lived experiences the immediate source of his creative out pouring. Company members similarly add their individual lived experiences and assorted skills, dancer, singer, rapper, musician, poet to join forces in making this work not just the presentation of a dance work but a theatrical event.
Kwesi seeks to subvert the conventional view that theatre is a spectator activity. The work presented by Dyna-Mix was fusion as verb mixing up jazz music and move with antics of freestyle rap, Jamaican dance hall, tap dance, graffiti art, singing, and mime. A real potpourri of varied genres this alchemy had one direction, to illustrate through performative acts that theatre is about getting involved with all that you know; who you are exemplified by what you do and how you do it. Kwesi directs, dances, speaks, Xantoné Blacq does music, Chrissie Adesina dances and sings, Talmud Bah MC’s and dances, Sunanda Biswas, Paradigmz MC and Tem Gill dance, Yoann Juliad, Trevor Antonio Kentish and Wun Yen Chan do music.
THEA NERISSA BARNES