William Kentridge - More Sweetly Play the Dance

In More Sweetly Play the Dance the procession begins with a male figure dancing, from the beginning to the end of the installation. After him, figures that are kept alive thanks to intravenous drippers pass through the work: some waving a flag in a kind of political vindication, priests dancing and carrying funeral lilies, as well as a succession of people dragging sacks and others dead, wrapped bodies that remember the victims of Ebola. In the procession we also see people walking carrying their belongings on their shoulders, a frequent image of our newscasts from different Mediterranean countries.

Kentridge has used the format of a procession or parade in his works on several occasions in order, as he himself says, “to try to encompass the multiplicity of people in the world”, and at the same time, to allude to the importance of walking as the main means of transport in the 21st century.

The entire procession is led by a lively metal band (African Immanuel Essemblies Brass Band), with festive and jovial music, which contrasts with the harshness of some of the situations referenced by the characters. The last figure in the cortege is the South African dancer Dada Masilo, dressed in pointe shoes, dancing classical ballet with a rifle and wearing a military uniform.

It is inevitable to see references to the danse macabre or dance of death of medieval invention, an allegorical way of resisting and respecting the force of death. Kentridge poses it here as a procession of cartoons and videos of dancers moving together toward death as an equalizing force that finally brings us all together. But when we dance, we are alive: dance, being mostly a gesture, requires complete precision and control over the body, but it also needs abandon, recklessness and energy. After a while, the dance becomes the least absurd of the play. In the world of More Sweetly Play the Dance, dance is a way of living through violence and a way of dying for it.

In the catalogue William Kentridge. More Sweetly Play The Dance, the artist provides a unique insight into the background, preparation and recording of the work.