TV REVIEW: Dark side of the dance

2017-08-27 08:34

Johannesburg - Finally those cryptic promos on SABC1 have been revealed. They belong to a brand-new series called Tjovitjo. The cast is stellar, to say the least (Warren Masemola is brilliant, so is Rapulana Seiphemo), and the way this show is filmed pushes the envelope with drone shots and eerie, silent, lingering scenes. The biggest problem is that the show only runs for 30 minutes.

Masemola’s character, Mafred, seems to be the head honcho of a troupe of street dancers called The Tjovitjos. He’s in charge and militant about their work.

In the opening scene, standing in a courtyard, Mafred shouts out numbers that the dancers respond to by doing a series of quick moves, for the most part in perfect unison. They come across as a gang, training in a street dojo, doing their katas (detailed choreographed patterns of movements) in preparation for some kind of battle or challenge. You know how we all know dance movies to have lame scripts and no story? Dance TV seems to take itself way more seriously; well, at least this show does.

There is a problem with the script being derivative in places, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

The creators have put some thought into the content, with issues such as blessers being addressed, as well as violence against women. The first episode ends with a young woman lying dead on a bed of leaves after having gone out with a friend who convinced her to tag along as the brothers they were heading out with had money...

But Tjovitjo is in a rather strange time slot. If it were placed midweek, I think it could have given top shows such as Uzalo a run for their money … or perhaps it’s too soon to say. That said, the Sunday slot ties into the spiritual themes in the show. A caring pastor sees Mafred squaring off against some assailants who look to harm him and intervenes.

It is good to see Seiphemo in a role other than the now soft, good guy Tau Mogale on Generations: The Legacy. He appears on screen in a black do-rag, which means we are already winning. He is a concerned father who doesn’t want his daughter to join The Tjovitjos. The music in the show also seems to be a well-thought-out element with some jazzy acid House meeting kwaito vibes.

Tjovitjo seems to be one to keep watching and let’s hope it doesn’t fall off. The creators’ approach to the show is refreshing and original, and the subject matter gritty and dark.

Watch the trailer here:

Catch Tjovitjo on Sunday at 20:00 on SABC 1 (DStv 194).

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