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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