Montclair State University’s Alexander Kasser Theater will rock and resound with South African music and dance, February 10-20, when Robyn Orlin’s riotously exuberant “Walking Next to Our Shoes…Intoxicated by Strawberries and Cream, We Enter Continents Without Knocking…” receives its United States premiere as part of Peak Performances 2011 season.
Featuring ten vividly costumed singers from the theatrically flamboyant Phuphuma Love Minus group, the South African opera/gospel/pop singer Ann Masina, swanker Vusumuzi Kunene and dancers Xolisile Bongwana and Thulani Zwane, the rollicking show with serious underpinnings was seen throughout Europe following its 2009 premiere in Paris, where it returned for a week at le Théâtre de la Ville in October 2010.
Phuphuma Love Minus is a traditional South African isicathamiya choir, an all-male form of a cappella singing specific to South African Zulu culture. Isicathamiya, which means “to walk softly” in Zulu, refers to the Zulu travelers who migrated into urban areas at the beginning of the 20th century. The Phuphuma performers move in a carefully choreographed tiptoe style in reference to their forebears, who were forced to walk on tiptoes to avoid making noise in the hostels in which they were housed. The lyrics refer to daily life: nostalgia for homeland, women, dangers of apartheid, the Gospel.
When Robyn Orlin first encountered Phuphuma Love Minus at an audition for “swankers” (Zulu men who compete in fancy dress competitions) for her 2008 production “Dressed to kill… killed to dress…” in Johannesburg, she immediately decided she wanted to create a production especially for them. She was inspired by the wit and metaphoric meaning of shoes associated with the historic, cultural and social roots of isicathamiya.” “Walking next to our shoes…” is a Zulu expression meaning “being poor,” but as the program note states: “…poor we are not…We continue to celebrate and express our state of mind…” The hour-long work, which is performed in Zulu, uses English subtitles.
As part of the stylish “swanker” tradition of “putting your best foot forward,” cast members will be in the lobby prior to the performance filming eye-catching footwear to potentially be used in the show’s video.
Born in Johannesburg in 1955, Robyn Orlin studied at the London School of Contemporary Dance from 1975-1980, completing her Master of Fine Arts at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1993. She has worked in television, film, theater, dance and opera, working as a choreographer, producer, dancer and teacher in South Africa and Europe. Her awards include Knight of the French National Order of Merit, a Laurence Olivier Award for outstanding achievement in Dance and the Jan Fabre Award for the most subversive choreography, among others.
10, 11, 17, 18 at 7:30 p.m.
February 12, 19 at 8 p.m.
February 13, 20 at 3 p.m.
All tickets are $15 and are available at the Alexander Kasser Theater Box Office, by calling 973-655-5112 or online at www.peakperfs.org. There is no charge for Montclair State University undergraduates with valid ID. Please arrive at least 30 minutes before curtain to claim your PAF ticket.
Co-produced by City Theatre & Dance Group, Festival Banlieues Bleues, Théâtre de Saint Quentin en Yvelines – Scène Nationale, and the Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg. Additional funding provided by Conseil Général de Seine-Sant-Denis and the Goethe Institute, Johannesburg. Travel support provided in part by CulturesFrance. Special thanks to Mr. Simon Ngubane and Mr. Adolphus Mbuyisa from the Iphimbo Iscathamiya Association where Phuphuma Love Minus is based.
The 2010/11 Peak Performances season is made possible in part by funds from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, The National Endowment for the Arts, The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Discover Jersey Arts, Alison and James T. Cirenza, and The Honorable Mary Mochary.
Released: January 28, 2011