The body beautifully decoded in Compagnie Kafig dance

Something beautiful lives in the expression of athletic skill. Compagnie Kafig, a troupe of 11 dancers performing at TD Arena as part of Spoleto Festival USA, shows just what a body can do. In its hip-hop heavy version of Brazilian fight dancing, Kafig’s capoeira takes advantage of isolations common to pop lock dancers.

Toward the end of “Correria,” the first presentation, one dancer comes out for a solo with his torso bare. He torques his abdomen until it takes on the flow of a pencil wobbled between two fingers in the rubber pencil optical illusion.

Later, Kafig kicks around the stage with an extra set of wooden legs in hand. Dancers use their arms to drive the fake legs into the same steps as their real ones, to dramatic effect. Each episode demands, “Pay attention, this is what legs can do, this is what muscles are for, this is what torsion, contraction and relaxation can produce.”

Kafig explores the body’s history. As “Correria” opens, a primordial orange glow—designed by Yoann Tivoli—lights three dancers on their backs, with their legs up in the air pedaling an invisible bicycle. We see them first as machines in the body’s present or future.

“Agwa,” the second presentation, is much more organic. During “Agwa,” a grid of clear plastic cups fills the stage. Only after a dancer backflips through the maze do we see that some of the cups are filled with water. The dancers dazzlingly dash it from one cup to another, visibly delighted with Mourad Merzouki’s choreography. You can’t help but be reminded of the fact that up to 60% of the human adult body is water. Kafig earns its finale, and you’ll want to stick around for the encore.

2 thoughts on “The body beautifully decoded in Compagnie Kafig dance

  1. Preston L. Howard

    I didn’t seem to notice the vacuousness of TD Arena from seat A-111. That’s about three seats from front row dead center. For the first year I am reaping the benefits of doing my homework and purchasing my tickets early. What I did notice is that though there was a respectable audience at Compagnie Kafig, still there were many seats that could have, should have been filled with every available young performing arts enthusiast. These performers didn’t get here without dedication and hard work. I’ve seen the favelas of Brazil. I’m betting that most of these brilliant performers have a story to share about how the performing arts have helped them escape a life of poverty and opened their eyes to a world they otherwise would never have known. I just can’t separate myself from my normal routine of reading sections A and B every day. I can’t overlook the daily gangsta killing and shooting and despair that is the ignorant norm for so many people that live in our community. Isn’t there some way to fill these vacant seats with some of the thousands of disadvantaged youths from right here in our own community. Just ask around. Most of the working class folks around here don’t even have a clue about what Spoleto is and has to offer. I wonder if some of these performers would be willing to share their story and share an inspirational message to a group of young people that might not otherwise have the opportunity to see a world class Hip Hop performance. I don’t know… I can’t stop thinking about the thousands of young black kids from right around the corner that deserved to see this fascinating performance by a group of men that might well become their idol and role model. And if that were coupled with a word of encouragement to stay out of trouble then the true power of this performance might well be recognized.

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