Seydou Boro’s ‘Cest a Dire’ combined multiple thoughts and varied anecdotes into a distinctly eclectic piece of dance theatre. What I mean to say is…he brought his stories to life through dance. His stories of his daughter, combined with political views on Africa, choreographic methodologies and subtle humour, proved to be simultaneously interesting and humdrum subject matter, made poignant by Seydou’s incredible performance style.
Seydou Boro began his performance before the audience had even entered the space. With his back to the audience, he sang and played his guitar facing upstage. Periodically, it would appear that he’d get an itch, which he would have to scratch, and it would interrupt his playing. After scratching, Seydou stood, continued facing the back wall, and played around with a small section of choreography. He then sat back down and resumed playing his guitar. This routine punctuated the first ten minutes of the show, with Seydou regularly scratching and then standing to try out some new choreography. While this was happening, the audience was entering the space and continuing talking, because the house lights did not dim until 10 minutes into the show. This created an interesting dynamic, where the audience almost assumed that Seydou was just warming up, and therefore the show hadn’t really started yet. By testing out choreography on stage, and by not defining the beginning of his performance in a traditional manner, the audience was already primed, almost without knowing it, for a type of theatre that was not traditional linear narrative, but something far more open.
Seydou seemed to pick his subject matter in an almost random order. Correspondingly, his choreography, particularly when it was not accompanying the subject matter, seemed just as spontaneous. The audience never knew what was coming next. We barely knew what we’d just watched. Seydou had a skill for making the story just long enough to tell us a bit about himself, but short enough to leave some intrigue. The random spontaneity and the ease with which he changed subject made the audience feel as if we were watching a game of ping pong. But the physicalisation of his seemingly simple stories gave a depth to the performance that proved his complexity as a creator.
This performance was not just a self indulgent solo performance, where someone expresses their inner most thoughts to the world. Nor was it a case of dance that was simply used to accompany the story. For Seydou, dance could express a more true representation of his stories than his voice ever could. For the audience, we were given a rare insight into a choreographic process, not just a performance. Seydou’s process was largely what the entire performance was about. How he came to view the world, how he came to be a choreographer, how he came to create each move. And we witnessed him creating new moves throughout the entire performance. This performance was not about his stories, it was not about his dance performance; it was about his process. This highly postmodern idea was realised in a beautifully subtle manner, so that one had to look quite deep at the performance to understand what Seydou was really playing with. But it was staring us in the face all along: he was simply playing.
‘C’est a Dire’ is easy to watch, yet not as easy to comprehend. Seydou’s magnificent skills as a dancer hold together his disarrayed range of thoughts. Evidently, Seydou’s life is held together by his dance, and he is simply trying to put it all together on the way.
Brisbane Powerhouse presents
C’EST A DIRE
Venue: Powerhouse Theatre
Date/Time: Sun 25 Nov, 6pm
Tickets: $29/$24 (Gallery) $22
Bookings: 3358 8600 or brisbanepowerhouse.org
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