Dada Masilo’s The Sacrifice: A Review

A powerful expression of Tswana dance, unlike anything you’ve seen before. Wales Millennium Centre is currently home to Dada Masilo’s The Sacrifice, a stunning, moving piece of theatre that incorporates both contemporary dance and classical ballet, along with cultural influences from Botswana.

Choreographer, Dada Masilo has created something truly magnificent, a powerful cultivation of motions and music. At times you can see the clear separation of ballet stylings and contemporary, but at others, you are lost in the fusing of these two arts. You can really see Dada’s love for classical ballet, blending beautiful, graceful movements with the sudden harshness and bite of contemporary.

Photo Credits: Tristram Kenton

Dada Masilo at P.A.R.T.S (the Performing Arts Research and Training Studios) in Brussels, and was always intrigued by complexity in Stravinsky’s score and develop an interest of challenging rhythms, which you can clearly see in this work. So much so, the fourth wall is broken during a very complex sequence and Dada and the other dancers address the musicians directly and ask them to slow down. The audience found this delightfully funny, and was an amusing and surprising break from the entranced performance prior.

The performance is very much rooted in the traditional dance, Tswana, and Botswana culture, exploring the meaning of ritual and sacrifice to the native people.

Dada Masilo herself takes the stage at the start, with a moving solo and instantly the audience is hypnotised by her movement. She is then joined on stage by the Ann Masina, who presents as a maternal figure, her voice sending chills up my spine. Ann Masina’s presence on and off stage is so powerful. As one of the 4 musicians who mostly remain just off stage left, and although she spends little time centre stage, she presence at the very start and at the end really brought the story to a compelling end.

One of the final sequences had the audience holding their breath. A suggestion of violent sexual assault, which was difficult to watch, especially at the concluding moment, where Ann Masina rejoins her on stage and sings over her as Dada lies still on the stage. A heartbreaking moment, alongside the incredible talent of Ann, left the audience breathless.

Photo Credits: Tristram Kenton

The whole cast helped cultivate such a compelling performance. I found it particuartly interesting when members of the cast were all seemingly dancing their own movement sequences, and then with a single sharp clap or beat, they were all snap into the same position with perfect synchronous. It was hauntingly beautiful. Leorate Bessler Dibatana, Lwando Dutyulwa, Thuso Lobeko, Lehlohonolo Madise, Thandiwe Mqokeli, Eutychia Rakaki, Songezo Mcilizeli, Refiloe Mogoje, Steven Mokone and Tshepo Zasekhaya have a talented like no other and were a wonder to watch.

Photo Credits: Tristram Kenton

I have always found that having the musicians on stage has a powerful effect, and this was no exception. And the use of some traditional south African instrument was particularly fascinating. Ann Masina, Leroy Mapholo (violin), Nathi Shongwe (piano) and the incredible percussionist, Mpho Mothiba, who you can’t help but watch as he plays several instruments at once to help create such inspiring and complex musical pairings.

There is still time to watch Dada Masilo’s The Sacrifice at the Wales Millennium Centre, on until 5th April before moving to Hull New Theatre and then Theatre Royal Newcastle. Whether you’re a fan of ballet or contemporary dance or a complete dance-novice, it’s definitely worth a watch.

You can get your tickets on the Wales Millennium Centre website- here!

All photo credits to Tristram Kenton.

And check their social medias;

Wales Millennium Centre: FacebookInstagram and Twitter

Dance Consortium: FacebookInstagram and Twitter