Exploring the broken black male body

Musa Hlatshwayo explores the black male body and identity in his latest work Udodana.

The choreographer and dancer presents his piece from today until Sunday at the Rhodes Theatre in Grahamstown as part of the National Arts Festival.

Udodana also features Sbonelo Mchunu, Njabulo Zungu, Sphakeme Nduli, S'celo Brilliant Mthethwa, Mduduzi Mbuyazi and Nkosing'phile Qolo.

In the production, Hlatshwayo locates the black male body in society, particularly in traditional African communities, households and churches.

Created and directed by the man himself, he looks at many ongoing incidents that constantly draw attention to the silenced brokenness of the black male identity.

Fusing abstract and narrative approaches, the work explores indoctrination and incubation in systems that ignore the development of black power and unity.

The 2018 Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance winner says while doing research for the piece he visited many traditional churches in townships to observe the role of young men or amadodana.

Hlatshwayo argues that in African culture, young men look up to their fathers and are expected to take over the reins when they depart.

He explores what it means to be udodana or amakhosana who will be the fathers of tomorrow, at a time when the male figure is associated with negative connotations.

"The culture of patriarchy has been transferred from different generations and is synonymous with the cultural oppression and abuse of women. Changing the old belief that men are superior to women will take decades to undo.

"Through the dance piece I am taking the dialogue of what it means to be a man forward."

The work explores the continued brokenness of the black male body.

"I am particularly interested in exploring and interrogating the placement of the younger black male generation in the evolution and the advancement of the patriarchal system.

"Its [patriarchy's] institutionalisation within African tradition, religion and spirituality and more importantly, its passing down from generation to generation as demonstrated by culture, tradition and religion and how this all responds and participates [in] the current ongoing brokenness of our society."

Hlatshwayo is an experienced dancer who worked with many companies before he established his company Mhayise Dance Company.

He has danced for Flatfoot Dance Company, Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company, Moving Hands Theatre Company and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in the UK.

He was FNB Vita's most promising male contemporary dancer in 2001 and has been named KZN Dancelink's choreographer of the year.

He also won the Eric Shabalala contemporary dance champion award at the 2016 Jomba Dance Festival .

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