I’ve hesitated to write anything about Bailey Snyman’s Moffie. Many friends (and festival acquaintances) weren’t too hot for it, feeling the context was ‘off’ and the performances were unmotivated and disconnected. The two early (and conflicting) reviews by Theresa Edlmann and Charl Blignaut, critiqued it insightfully but I somehow agree with both of them, at the risk of sounding like a fence-sitter.
Perhaps I was blown away by the sheer athletic force of the piece, and I do try to stay as objective as possible amidst my opinionated associates, but my initial honest reaction was that it was a success. The movement was powerful and although some of the larger choreography was recognisable, I found interest in the gestural language. Snyman’s army of dancers serve him well in giving everything they’ve got to the dances.
Moffie could have done with a great dose of subtlety – I felt the title gave us enough of a clue as to the content. The movement language is where the metaphorical layers should come from, therefore no need to repeat (with American movie sound clips) what our senses have already understood. I’m not sure if the depiction of the rape was necessary, as in dance we specifically are granted the transformative tools of metaphor, imagery, and suggestion. It isn’t Realism and doesn’t need to be.
From the perspective of a heterosexual female, I obviously understood things differently to Blignaut, who said as a gay man he was offended by the cliché that gays are seen as purely sexual. In reflecting through my notes, I noticed I’d specifically scribbled comments about how the first duet between the lovers was beautifully caring, the movement supportive, gentle, and “not sexual” (my exact note). Yes, it begins with lustful looks, and then progressed into the loving scene – but don’t most relationships (hetero and homo) begin with attraction?
There were wonderful moments. Nicola Haskins’s solo as the mother was performed emotively, with her turmoil and angst communicated well with her expert movement abilities. (Haskin and Snyman’s partnership is so long-standing and interdependent, they should perhaps have shared the award?) Another moment sees much macho ass-grabbing that is easily accepted but such incredible violence that follows the discovery of the gay couple. This speaks hugely to the pervasive patriarchy which permeates and prescribes how the masses view the world.
I sound like a fence-sitter here because for Moffie I still am. Perhaps a second watching of it will help me decide, but with the many conflicting opinions I’ve heard around the various dinner tables at Long Table and The Eatery, I think there’ll be much discussion for the next while. And maybe someone really clever will say the right convincing words to unfence me. – Sarah Roberson