Skoonheid (Beauty): A discussion

NOTE: Contains spoilers

Francois and Christian in ‘Skoonheid’

At the wedding of his daughter, Francois van Heerden, thin-lipped and cold-eyed, watches a young man from across the room as he laughs and talks with friends; and if it wasn’t for the length of the stare, you wouldn’t know why. Francois is a man who has become the mask he must have donned years ago, from whichever point in time that he made the conscious decision to deny who he was.

His life is reflected on his face – it is a mask and the mask is without expression. He and his wife sleep in the same bed, yet they do not look at each other when they make conversation, let alone touch. He watches dispassionately from across the road as she embraces someone we assume to be her lover and then drives away without murmur. He appears to be a regular at a meeting of white Afrikaan men – no “faggots” and/or “coloureds” allowed – who have unappetizing and unfeeling sex with each other before going back to their suburban, heterosexual lives.

Yet, under this detachment in Francois lies something that puts us on edge, although we cannot at once put our finger on it. If the adage “calm before the storm” could have face, it would be Francois’s.

Continue reading Skoonheid (Beauty): A discussion

Cooking Up A Dream: Quintessence of SpunSugar

Let me state at the outset that this is not a review. It is a story of sorts – about friends, food and new beginnings.

I’ve been going to Kamaya de Soysa’s house since I was 13 years old and now, over ten years later, it still retains what is to me an irresistible atmosphere of warmth. Hers was the kind of household that welcomed anybody – from scampering little girls and raucous teenage boys, to adult friends dropping in at a moment’s notice. Her mum would stand smilingly at the door, ask you to come in and whip up something delicious to eat and drink as if she had been expecting you all along. You’d dump your stuff wherever, gasp in pleasant surprise as pets of various shapes and sizes got underfoot and then sink comfortably onto a couch or chair somewhere, and tuck in. Continue reading Cooking Up A Dream: Quintessence of SpunSugar

A Review: Kumbi Kathawa

The parameters of a good dance

Review of Kumbi Kathawa – performed by Chitrasena Kalayathanaya

I’ve always loved dancing. I’ve spent whole afternoons as a kid running around the garden in a leotard, hoping this exercise would magically turn me into a ballerina. I’ve grown up watching ballets both on stages around the world and on my parents’ beat up VCR. Dance movies from ‘The Dancing Princesses’ to ‘Dirty Dancing’ to ‘Step Up’ have kept me enthralled and not just a little green with envy.

Because, when you think about it, what’s not to love about dancing? The bodies are lithe and beautiful but muscles pulse and flex beneath smooth skin. The movements are so graceful but also so steady and strong. The expressions speak volumes but no words are uttered.

Admittedly I’m no expert when it comes to dance, least of all Kandyan dancing.  But I am a firm believer that one of the most important functions of any art is to provoke an immediate reaction. So I don’t need to analyse every step to figure out if it’s a good dance or not. My measures are a little different; a little more visceral. I know it’s a good dance when my own body twists discreetly in my seat, in an involuntary echo of what’s happening onstage. I know it’s a good dance when I am almost afraid to blink for fear of missing a single movement, a single loaded glance. I know it’s a good dance when I am too wrapped up in the action to even clap when the stage vanishes into inky darkness. (In fact, I was only shaken out of my reverie when I heard a little voice behind me indignantly say “Ammi mata mukuth penne ne” (Mum, I can’t see anything!). I had to laugh.) Continue reading A Review: Kumbi Kathawa