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Tue May 24 15:51:02 SAST 2016

Finding beauty in the mundane and magnificent

Jackie May | 23 November, 2012 00:07
Moving Into Dance MophatongThe Dance Factory, Newtown, Johannesburg21 Nov 2012.'beauty remained for just a moment then returned gently to her starting position....' by Robyn Orlin with costumes by Marianne Fassler.Performed by MIDM.Photograph:John Hogg
Image by: John Hogg

Defending beauty, like trying to define art, is an impossible project. Beauty - and art - is subjective and possibly best summed up by the age-old cliché, " Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

Not intimidated by their search, the Moving into Dance Mophatong dancers in a multimedia conceptual piece look for beauty in both the mundane and the magnificent.

Choreographed by Robyn Orlin, Beauty Remained for Just a Moment then Returned Gently to her Starting Position opens with Julia Burnham being lifted by fellow performers from the back of the audience and carried to the aisle where, dressed in a luxurious Marianne Fassler gown made from Chinese shopping bags, she begins her search for "absolute beauty".

The dress is one of the many costumes fashion designer Fassler made from plastic shopping bags, shiny black bags, or used sweet bags. There are also tutus made from empty bottles, and borrowed shirts which play on the idea that beauty can be discovered in what is often considered ugly.

Projected against the back of the stage while dancers perform various loosely connected scenes are the French videographer Philippe Lane's images of lions, chickens, snakes, water and sunsets contrasting with suggestions of urban waste.

What this experimental piece might lose in an apparent lack of narrative structure it makes up with its energetic and considered performances, leaving the audience, as Orlin and her collaborators do, wondering "what it is that is truly beautiful in Africa and by doing this the big question of what is beauty".

This is an excellent, thought-provoking performance piece.

  • 'Beauty Remained for Just a Moment then Returned Gently to her Starting Position' is at the Dance Factory, Newtown until November 25. For tickets see


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