Inspired by a real-life incident years ago, when police bust in on Joseph Toonga after a neighbour complained about noise, and he had to prove he was a dance student to them and had done nothing wrong, “Born to Manifest” is a brutal and brittle concrete slab of dance. Toonga's choreography sits neatly alongside the cultural signifiers of black culture, where racially-motivated police brutality isn't merely alluded to but represented in an unflinching way in hip-hop, film and literature. I'm reminded of tracks like Public Enemy's “Fight the Power,” Ruthless Rap Assassins' “Justice” and Childish Gambino's “This Is America.” It's dance that defies, dares you to look away, makes you complicit as a spectator in its discomfort.
“Born to Manifest” by Joseph Toonga. Photograph courtesy of the artist
One would think that a dance inspired by the events of the January 6 insurrection—yes, a dance!—would not be the ideal stuff of theater, but the eight members of Laurie Sefton Creates (formerly Clairobscur Dance Company), succeeded in giving life to Sefton’s premiere “Herd. Person?”, while the dance, itself, was occasionally problematic.Continue Reading