The hunt for heritage | Be drawn in by the abstract. Picture: Moratiwa Molema
Afro-futuristic 360° film, The Cosmic Egg, sees dancers recorded as they come in and out of the frame. It’s the story of a hunt for an ostrich egg that magically transports the hunters from the past to a musical future.
This tale is told through the choreography of Moratiwa Molema at the ongoing Virtual National Arts Festival. Molema is of Tswana and German heritage and many of her relatives live in Mahikeng in the North West. The 45-year-old dancer explained the story of her fantastical dance piece.
“The Cosmic Egg started out as a show I made called For the Love of Figure: An Anthology of Movement, which was more like a variety show of different types of dance, tai chi and capoeira. Later I put together the different individual pieces into a storyline and out came a new evolved show called Roots, a 45-minute dance theatre piece with a live band.”
I had too many concepts in my head that needed manifestation. I gathered willing dancers and we have been making dance shows mainly in Botswana.
Choreographer Moratiwa Molema
Roots was later translated to The Cosmic Egg, a virtual reality film. Traditional instrumentation is used in between the more adventurous melodies and contemporary Tswana and San movements make up the core of the lucid like performance.
Molema was an avid rhythmical gymnast in Germany where she grew up until she moved to Botswana, aged 14, and had to find an alternative home.
“There was no rhythmical gymnastics in Botswana. Eventually, after I completed my Bachelor in Fine Arts in media art at 26, I gave up dancing altogether to focus only on directing and choreography. I had too many concepts in my head that needed manifestation. I gathered willing dancers and we have been making dance shows mainly in Botswana,” Molema said.
Moratiwa Molema takes you on a futuristic hunt with grass roots rhythms and timeless movements. Picture: Supplied
This is where her troupe, New Moon, was formed.
“We have traditional dancers, contemporary dancers, ballroom dancers, krumpers and hip hop dancers. I let those who are experts in their field choreograph the details. I generally choreograph contemporary dance and the bigger stage layout or choreography for camera.”
The challenge was in presenting this abstract story as a sphere on your screen.
“In our rehearsals we would put a shoe in the middle of the circle, and we blocked all movement around the shoe. The next challenge was location, since there is no backstage, performers had to hide in the bush and wait for their queue,” she said.
“I designed the movements so that the whole piece could be filmed in one shot, meaning the transitions were part of the choreography as opposed to a cut.”
I put together the different individual pieces into a storyline and out came a new evolved show called Roots, a 45-minute dance theatre piece with a live band.
The piece is amazingly weird, but the subtitles should help you reign in the cutting edge vision and the fusion of a sci-fi aesthetic with traditional dances and music. You’ll want to watch this performance a few times.
How does it work?
The NAF programme is viewable until July 16. Watch The Cosmic Egg for R35 at https://nationalartsfestival.co.za/show/the-cosmic-egg/
The programme takes place entirely on the NAF website.
A full day’s access to productions is R80, with a special price of R600 for an all-access pass for the entire 11 days.
Virtual fringe events are individually ticketed and there’s a free-to-browse virtual gallery area as well as a virtual village green, where festivalgoers can browse crafts and handmade wares.
The Standard Bank Jazz Festival remains an integral part of the festival experience in the online iteration.