War dance

Facing Mekka

Rennie Harris’ Puremovement Company has amazed audiences all over the world, and this show in particular incorporated the rhythms and choreography of many of those cultures, marrying hip-hop break dancing with Japanese Butoh and combining wordless, lamenting ululation with rapping in a sharp cry for social change.

Facing Mekka was billed as a hip-hop show, hailed as a kind of prayer by critics, and experienced by this reviewer as a distillation of the essence of longing into a visual and auditory màlange of protest and celebration.

One moment a dancer was spinning on his head, arms outstretched as if to embrace this impossible, ecstatic, new view of the world as a slideshow of bombs exploding filled the stage. Then the focus shifted as four women undulated like liquid mercury in time to a driving polyrhythmic tidal wave of live drumming set against a backdrop of running water. The women’s bound hands behind their backs in no way impeded the sensuous supple grace of their snaky smooth hips. The writhing in agony of the dancers appeared to rise from primordial depths and naturally transformed into individual expressions of joy in an amazing continuous evolution of movement and sound.

This was the essence of Facing Mekka—the message that, against the backdrop of a world at war with itself, we can still connect to each other via the raw passion and emotion that is celebrated in the universal languages of music and dance.