My SF Chronicle review of the Faustin Linyekula:

“Pain is all-consuming, but the intensity doesn’t always translate. Ken Foster, executive director of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, has brought us a steady series of African contemporary dance companies in recent years, and in each of them you see the same image: piles of bodies. But more than that, you feel the same disconnect.

You know the image must be powerful to artists from these war-torn countries; you feel a twinge of guilt because it isn’t instantly powerful to you. But it’s just a pile of bodies, and you don’t share the experiences behind it. There’s a bridge between you and the image that the artist, immersed in how much it means to him, hasn’t led you across.

At first, Congolese choreographer Faustin Linyekula’s “Festival of Lies” looks as if it’s going to fall into this trap, despite some novel attempts to counteract the distance. Billed as part installation, part dance performance, the show (continuing with an expanded six-hour rendition tonight) turns the YBCA’s Forum into a party, with free African food, a bar and a grooving band, Soukous Connection, from Oakland.

Gradually, Linyekula and the three members of his company, Les Studios Kabako, take over the dance floor as the crowd settles into the tables and chairs placed on two sides. It’s a Brechtian removal of that theatrical “fourth wall,” and the practical effect works: You feel closer to these performers, immersed in the environment. Thursday a healthy crowd of attendees even got up and danced during the intermission.

And yet, for the first half, a disconnect persists. ”

Click here to read the rest of the review.

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