Rhythmic Nation

Men-Jaro brings the noise and the funk

Live dance performance can be grueling, as dull as a spoon. But, at its best, it can also be explosive and propulsive, an in-the-face assault on the senses that leaves audiences so drained they feel like they did the steppin' themselves. Vincent Mantsoe's work definitely falls under the latter description. The South African choreographer's new project, Men-Jaro, features music by Anthony Caplan's African Music Workshop Ensemble (six members will play indigenous instruments onstage, with an emphasis on percussion) and a troupe of five dancers.

As a child in Soweto, Mantsoe listened to his mother begin each day with a traditional drum greeting to the "ancestors." He also joined youth clubs that danced in the streets in imitation of moves from music videos. This mix of ancient tradition and modern influences informs Mantsoe's every move and has allowed him to create his own style, Afro-fusion, which blends classic African dance with modern, ballet, and Asian approaches. It adds up to one powerful evening of fantastic light-tripping.
Jan. 27-28, 8 p.m.

 
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