Big City, Big Dreams is original and compelling viewing. It brings together an impressive cast and crew of South African creatives to tell – through dance – the story of two young people arriving in Jozi and finding their place, and love, in the heart-thumping buzz and rush.
This collaboration is between Joburg Ballet, Moving Into Dance Mophatong and Vuyani Dance Theatre, a formidable trio ably representing all the wonders that our dance community has to offer. Choreographers Shannon Glover, Lulu Mlangeni and Sunnyboy Motau create a shared vision that exploits the strengths of each.
The production is directed by Fiona Ramsay, one of the country’s foremost theatre and screen practitioners, with a stage set and lighting by Wilhelm Disbergen and a score composed by Nik Sakellarides. The excitement of this piece is that it holds on to a constant element of surprise, because the audience isn’t sure what is coming next – a lot like the experience of arriving in a new city and trying to find your feet.
At the performance I saw, the new lovers, Muzi and Zara, were danced by Moving into Dance Mophatong’s Eugene Mashiane and Joburg Ballet’s Megan Gerber, who isn’t a principal or senior soloist at the company, but danced like she was on the night. Claudia Monja, who is always a pleasure to watch, was Zara’s rival and senior soloist Nicole Ferreira-Dill danced the role of the CEO.
Perhaps my favourite piece is Muzi’s first day in his corporate job, the men in suits clamour around him, banging and crashing their chairs, while he struggles to come to terms with the company line strictly maintained by the CEO. Another scene that stands out in a stellar night out is a dance-off in a Jozi night spot, with the DJ as instigator and referee. It showcases the carefully cultivated grace and sheer power of all these dancers, regardless of the discipline they have been trained in.
Big City, Big Dreams is extremely well-rehearsed and bursting with energy, rhythm and athleticism. The audience on the night was young and so appreciative that, when the final step was danced, they flew to their feet to give the cast a standing ovation.
This incredible collaboration was only on for a week at the Joburg Theatre, sadly, but when it returns – which I have no doubt it will – don’t miss out again.
Next up on the dance calendar is Snow White the ballet from October 13 to 22 at The Joburg Theatre