Spoken word and dance can be interesting bedfellows. The expressive physicality of dance can present emotions that words cannot always say. Meanwhile, the poetry of spoken word can fully communicate a complex and powerful narrative in just a few words. Black Holes combines these two elements to great effect and creates an evocative sci-fi universe .
Black Holes is choreographed and written by Seke Chimutengwende and Alexandria Helmsley and performed by Chimutengwende and Rudzani Moleya. The show begins with both performers on the stage dancing in slow and considered movements. The sound design (from composer Xana) sets the uncanny, curious mood and this is heightened through evocative lighting (from designer Simeon Miller). As the show progresses in this timid style, both performers then make their way off the stage and occupy space within the audience. Here, the dancing stops and the show takes a turn. Both Chimutengwende and Moleya begin to address the audience verbally and Black Holes now becomes a formidable and fierce piece of spoken word storytelling. Previously the emotion of the show was expressed through physical theatre, but now words are the driving force of Black Holes. Here we are taken back in time to the history of the universe. Time moves forward at a great pace and Octavia E Butler, Sun Ra and even David Bowie are referenced in the text.
The set consist of large boxes, each covered in black canvas and rope. The boxes are on wheels and throughout Black Holes the performers move the objects to evoke asteroids or even spaceships. In doing so, they create a cosmic world with just a few items. Black Holes is a brilliant dance and spoken word piece that presents important ideas in an inventive and exciting way. Repetition in the choreography and the language help set the scene where afro-futurism and black bodies are present in a science fiction universe. The show does however rely heavily on spoken word, while the physical theatre feels like the most evocative and powerful part of the performance.