After the success of last year’s Sensual Africa, choreographer Bawren Tavaziva has returned to London with his new show Greed. With foundations rooted in the seven deadly sins, Greed claims to deal with the “complexities of money, power and religion and the subtle and not so subtle differences between African and Western cultures”. Perhaps these complexities are thorny to the point of incomprehensibility – whatever the reason, they didn’t translate clearly in the performance.
Even with Afro-Western comparisons removed from the equation, deciphering the seven deadly sins was challenging enough. In just over one hour the eight dancers – dressed in white Aztec-print lycra – performed a cyclical, tribal, modern, voodoo-infused routine in which, out of pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth, only lust was performed with any clarity.
And what a scene this was: slinking onstage, grabbing each other bestially and thrusting aggressively, the dancers masterfully depicted pre and post-coital states. A fusion of human and animal, the dancers paraded their insatiable sexual appetites to the backdrop of Tavaziva’s porno-esque soundtrack, in which mewing females, rasping throaty males, wails and heavy-breathing intermingled with the bellows of elephants and the deep grunts of a leopard. The scene was reminiscent of Laurie Lee’s beautifully crafted description in Cider with Rosie of “the orgasmic outbursts of tethered beasts.”
Alas, after Petros Treklis (the only male performer) lifted the final dancer by her nether regions, the scene was over and we were drawn back into the indistinguishable blur of convolution. Perhaps the only other sin apparent was sloth – manifested in the yawns of the audience. This languor, however, could have been part of Tavazina’s plan: he wanted us to feel bored, to feel sloth, and thus created a soporific soundtrack. Or, the audience might just have been bored.
Though the dancing was impressive and energetic it was also confusing and repetitive. This repetition sadly caused a lack of audience concentration, rendering the production’s message impenetrable and undermining its redemptive section. Sneak in for the lust scene, or give it a miss.