Boy’s Khaya – The Studio

Artistic direction and choreography by Bawren Tavaziva

Rating: 4 out of 5.

How do you explain slavery to a child? Compile histories’ abhorrent make-up of colonialism and the repugnancy of its continuation today into a sane sentence. Boy’s Khaya (meaning Servant’s House) has humble origins as the young man who once stepped out from behind their white master’s house struggles to comprehend the why and how of the past, and where we are now.

Contemporary African choreographer and music producer Bawren Tavaziva fuses various mediums and techniques into the stories of his youth in Zimbabwe but encapsulates the story of the world for many, transforming his history into shared history. Despite the biographical nature, gradually the storytelling evolves from distinctly personal into an encompassing production that spans a plethora of emotional states, political commentary and metaphorical outpourings. All of which leads to a finale that devastates the laughter and merriments of before.

Despite communicating the human experience, there is without question a universally vital remark on Africa and the continuation of persecution (individual and governmental), slavery and modern colonialism to manifest a diverse and rich well of stories to share. Immersive, Boy’s Khaya reinforces the importance of in-person performance for the dance community; appreciating the precision and seamless transitions between ballet, contemporary movements and traditional African form.

Bound; Ben Voorhaar and Sabrina Zyla of Karisma’s costume design seems minimal, but the bonds the dancers wear serve as symbolic a purpose as it is a visual stimulus. And there is, whether to demonstrate the fetishism or the intensity of traditional movement, these moments of eroticism – or rather, sensuality. Less a motivation of cabaret, much of Boy’s Khaya’s comings together involves intimacy on a primal, supportive and physical scale. A troupe, as the dancers come as one there’s a fluidity present across the production, male dancers Andre Kamienski and Dakarayi Mashava performing sublime routine or connection, stripping away expectations, heightening masculinity to a more original and complete form, away from stereotypes and muscle, into total liberty of the body.

Transcendent, excluding the finale, the solo sequences leave a distinct impression ahead of groups and duets. Diverse, the sheer volume of difference in the intricacy of style from pop-locking to ballet is a double-edged aesthetic, some leaving a profound impression over others. For this reason, the women take the starring role; Harriet Waghorn, Freya Harris and Asmara Cammock are evocative and in complete control, their autonomy evident and their method of capturing the audience’s attention, leading them down the avenues of humorous, intimate and tragic sequences.

If one can tear themselves away from gushing over the precision of the dancers, the enhancements bestowed upon the production to cast the stage in a variety of tones and shades courtesy of Sherry Coenen’s lighting. Despite the rich colours utilised with washout blues and reds, it is never distracting, lifting the dancer’s ability to carry emotion into the audience.

A journey across Zimbabwe’s history, Tavaziva explores his own experiences with the apartheid structure of the nation. Boy’s Khaya is a compelling collection of short storytelling experiences, expertly conceived and designed, vitally spreading an under-discussed discourse of Africa’s history to UK audiences. Tavaziva takes his history and lifts it into African history, world history, a shared experience most will not wholly comprehend, appreciate or grasp without growing up in Zimbabwe, but will nevertheless feel the impact and sense the spirit in Tavaziva’s work.

For further information about the Boy’s Khaya tour can be located from Tavazia’s website here.

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