Meet Cion: A Requiem of Ravel’s Boléro’s Creative Team

Director’s Note

‘In this work, I am drawn to Zakes Mda’s character ‘Toloki’ the professional mourner from his beloved Ways of Dying as he further uncovers in his book Cion the story of the runaway slaves. In my interpretation, Toloki rediscovers death in a modern context, inspired by the universal events that lead to death, not as a natural phenomenon but by decisions of others over the other. We mourn the death by creating death. The universe of greed, power; religion has led us to be professional mourners who transform the horror of death and the pain of mourning into a narrative that questions what seems to be normalised and far more brutal in how we experience death and immigration. I am creating this work as a lament, a requiem required to awaken a part of us, the connection to the departed souls. The first offering under the title ‘Requiem Request’ was first presented at William Kentridge’s The Centre for the Less Good Idea where the idea of interrogating the music of Ravel’s Boléro using other music devises was cemented. I am grateful to the Market Theatre Foundation for their support with the staging of this work. Special thanks to Professor Zakes Mda for his generous permission in using his material as reference. I am also highly indebted to the Management Team of Vuyani Dance Theatre and The Board of Directors. On behalf of the cast and the creative team of Cion, I invite you to go on this journey with us.

Regards,

Gregory Maqoma

Cion
Joys of Sharing | Wouter Kellerman, Simphiwe Dana and Vuyani Dance Company and directed by Greg Maqoma | Photograph | John Hogg

“What does death signify for you?”

The Creative Team 

Mannie Manim, co-founder of The Market Theatre, has been involved in theatre for 60 years and lighting productions in South Africa and internationally for over 40 years. Manim was Head of Drama for The Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal (PACT) for seven years; Managing Director of The Market Theatre Company for 17 years; Managing Trustee, The Market Theatre Foundation for 15 years; Director of Performing Arts Administration, Wits University for 10 years; Director and CEO of the Baxter Theatre Centre for 9 years; and the Executive Director of The Fugard Theatre for its first year. Now a producer and lighting designer, Manim’s career highlights include lighting Sarafina! and Asinamali, SA and USA; Nothing But the Trut,h SA, Australia, UK and USA; Woza Albert, SA, UK, Australia and USA; The Island and Sizwe Banzi is Dead in SA, UK, Europe, Canada and USA; Othello, The Market; The Tempest, the Baxter and Stratford upon Avon; Waiting for Godot, Broken Glass, The Fugard Theatre; Carmen and The Mysteries, Spier, London, New York, Perth, Toronto; The Magic Flute, SA, London and Paris; Hamlet, the Baxter and The Swan Theatre (Stratford upon Avon); Showboat, Artscape, UK, Germany, Sweden, Norway and at The Chatelet Theatre, Paris; Porgy and Bess, Artscape, Sweden, Berlin Opera House and Oslo.

“The end of your journey in the physical realm, death causes pain for some and others are left unaffected or rather immune to the act of dying.” Smangaliso Ngwenya

Has lit every first production of a Fugard play in SA since 1976 and produced most of them. Ouroboros in SA, Europe and India. Solomon and Marion, four SA seasons, Edinburgh and Washington. A DISTANT DRUM, Bloemfontein and Carnegie Hall, New York. Madame Zingara, IN CELEBRATION, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Firebird, Artscape, National Arts Festival, USA four-week tour of open air venues including Hollywood Bowl; A Man of Good Hope, Young Vic, London and BAM, New York. His accolades include Shirley Moss Award; Greatest Practical and Technical Contribution to SA Theatre (1980), SA Institute of Technology Award; Outstanding Achievement as a Technician, Administrator and Lighting Designer (1981), first Vita Award; The most Enterprising Producer (1985) 10 Vita awards; best original Lighting Design. Made Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government (1990), received Gold Medal; Simon van der Stel Foundation (1995), Gold Medal; Theatre Development The SA Academy of Arts and Science (1996); Naledi Life Achievement Award (2004); Fleur du Cap Lifetime Achievement Award; Arts & Culture Trust Lifetime Achievement Award; The National Order of Ikhamanga, Silver (2011); Fleur du Cap Award for best lighting design (2012) and International Fellowship of ALD UK (2016).

After completing her matric Shanell Winlock Pailman joined Moving into Dance Mophatong’s one year Edu-Dance diploma course. After completing the course she was approached by Sylvia Glasser to join the full time dance company where she started her official professional dance career. Two years later she won a scholarship to Brussels to attend the school of Performing Arts Research and Training Studios ( P.A.R.T.S.) under the direction of Anne Terresa Dekeersmaker. A year later she returned to Johannesburg and worked with various South African choreographers including Gregory Vuyani Maqoma, PJ Sabbagah, Sello Peso, Moeketsi Koena and Tracey Human, to mention a few. She has won awards for most promising and most outstanding female artists for the FNB vita Dance Umbrella Awards. In 2000 she was invited to work with the UK based company the Akram Khan Dance Company where she continued to live and work for 10 years. She toured worldwide and became the rehearsal director of the company. The AKC works and collaborations included artist such as Kylie Minogue, Nitin Sawney, Cloud Gate Dance Company from Taiwan. London, Symphonietta, Aniesh Kapoor and Sidi Larbi Cherchaoi. On her return to South Africa in 2011 she choreographed a duet for two members of the Vuyani Dance Theatre project for their season, as well as a group work for the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative. To date she assists Johannesburg based companies as a rehearsal director and teaches dance classes.

3. THE MUSIC

The soundscape and the music for CION is inspired by Ravel’s famous classic, Boléro. This is the music that we have heard throughout our dance training and it has been interpreted many times by the musicians, dancers and choreographers of our times. We are fascinated by the idea of building a composition from a single theme which would grow simply through harmonic and in our case vocal ingenuity. The delicate sound of Iscathamiya is used as our starting point and the basic vocal quality. This gives us a historical irony because Iscathamiya started as colonial response and later became our heritage that can be used proudly to tell our history. In our exploration we want to be transported to the unknown, the beat box represents the relentless snaredrum that underpins the whole of the 15-minute work as Ravel inevitably builds on the simple tune. We would like to see what happens when we go beyond 15 minutes to one hour and 15 minutes – Nhlanhla Mahlangu

Nhlanhla Mahlangu is a graduate in Theory and Practice of Dance Teaching from Moving Into Dance Mophatong. He has over ten years of professional performance and administration in theatre, dance, dance theatre, and dance education. Mahlangu has made great strides in the performing arts industry as a choreographer, actor, singer, poet, dancer, teacher, administrator and composer. His extraordinary work has been seen all over Africa, North America, South America, Asia and Europe. Of note is his extraordinary ability to compose music from the Gods – his versatility as an artist has seen him being commissioned to work with numerous multi-awarding winning artists, including Richard Cock, Gregory Vuyani Maqoma, Sylvia Glasser, Vincent Mantsoe, Jay Pather, Des and Dawn Lindberg, Robyn Orlin, James Ngcobo, Victor Ntoni and many more. He has worked across the spectrum of dance – dance theatre and dance education.

Xolisle Bongwana is an accomplished dancer who is also versed in signing, composing, directing, acting and choreography. He began his singing and dancing career in Port Elizabeth around 1999 as a youngster. Xoli then went on to work with the Dodgy Clutch Theatre Company as an actor, dancer and singer, working with choreographer Robyn Orlin and going on to tour in the UK and USA. Xoli has worked extensively with Gregory Maqoma and Luyanda Sidiya, in various festivals with Vuyani Dance Theatre and recently returned from a tour in Western Australia where he was performing in the Perth International Arts Festival 2017 as part of an a cappella quartet, Vuyani Ensemble, in the production of Exit/Exist featuring Gregory Maqoma. Vuyani Ensemble also performed as a separate entity in Perth, Albany and Denmark including a music workshop for a mature aged group of musicians and choir. In 2015 Xoli was a composer and musical director in the production SIVA, a dance work choreographed by Luyanda Sidiya who was the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for 2015. SIVA went on to be performed at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, as well as in China. Xoli’s passion for dancing is in by no means surpassed by his talent of composing music for artists like Luyanda Sidiya’s solo Makwande and together with his own exceptional musical/singing abilities. In 2016 he was nominated for Mail and Guardian 200 Young South African. Xoli recently formed the group Ubuthina Ensemble with other vocalists. He continues to push his boundaries in all fields as well as exploring other skills.

6. SBUSISO SHOZI

Sbusiso Shozi started his career under Mbongeni Ngema’s shows such as Sing Africa Dance, 1906 Bhambada The Freedom Fighter and Sarafina! where he earned some lead singing and supporting roles. He also did some international and national tours with a number of companies where he performed as a lead actor, singer and dancer. Shows such as Africa My Love, Makhulu, Drumstruck, Just for You, Shosholoza, Music in the Air, Soweto Entsha, Have We Been Heard, Long Way To Go, Voices from Kilimanjaro, Umshado and is currently performing in Sarafina! as Stimela saseZola. Sbusiso has had roles in television shows and he earned a lead role in the documentary Operation Certain Death and featured in Isibaya. He is a musical director and a vocal coach for a number of shows he has performed in and also a director of his company, Show Zee Productions.

7. SIMPHIWE BONONGO

Sowetan-born performer, Simphiwe Bonongo (1 Jan 1987), had acknowledged his love for beatboxing in 2003 where he practiced hip hop sessions in and around the Vaal Rand. Bonongo appeared in his first stage beatboxing performance in 2011, after moving to Johannesburg, in the stage work Boom Bap vs Swag Rap with KiriPinKnob. Bonongo did more beatboxing work with the Song & Dance theatrical company from 2014, featuring in the musical dance piece with Phuphuma love minors (Ischathamiya group) and The Chants we Make.

“The end of one’s physical being, the spirit leaves to a place that is unknown.” Sinazo Bokolo

CREATIVE TEAM

CONCEIVER, CHOREOGRAPHER AND DANCER Gregory Maqoma

SUPPORTING MOVEMENT ANALYST/DRAMATURGY Shanell Winlock

REHEARSAL ASSISTANT Lulu Mlangeni

MUSICAL DIRECTOR AND COMPOSER Nhlanhla Mahlangu

COMPOSITION ASSISTANT Xolisile Bongwana

COSTUMES BlackCoffee

SET DESIGN AND TECHNICAL DIRECTOR Oliver Hauser

LIGHTING DESIGN Mannie Manim

PROPS Wesley Mabizela

SOUND ENGINEER APPRENTICE Katleho Mokgothu

DANCERS

Phumlani Nyanga | Phumlani Mndebele | Julia Burnham | Otto Nhlapo | Sinazo Bokolo | Smangaliso Ngwenya | Cebolenkosi Zuma | Gregory Maqoma

MUSICIANS

Thabang Mkhwanazi | Sbusiso Shozi | Simphiwe Bonongo | Xolisile Bongwana

“Death means the rebirth of another human being for the next generation, the continuation of life for generations to come.” Phumlani Nyanga

VUYANI DANCE THEATRE

CHAIRPERSON OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS Thandiwe Msibi

BOARD MEMBERS Dr Thuthula Balfour-Kaipa, Vonani Mathebula,CA (SA), Dumo Mbethe, CA (SA)

EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR Gregory Maqoma

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Lindiwe Letwaba

CREATIVE ASSISTANT Lulu Mlangeni

BOOKKEEPER Sinazo Mboniswa

MARKETING CONSULTANT Siyandiswa Dokoda

CSI COORDINATOR Nonkululeko Thabede

PROJECT COORDINATOR Mahadi Mkwanazi

REHEARSAL DIRECTOR Phumlani Nyanga

TECHNICAL ASSISTANT Wesley Mabizela

PATRONS Justice Edwin Cameron, Advocate Nomvula Mokhatla, Dr Sibongile Khumalo

VUYANI DANCE THEATRE WOULD LIKE TO EXTEND ITS HEARTFELT

GRATITUDE AND APPRECIATION TO THE FOLLOWING:

FUNDER The National Lotteries Commission

MEDIA PARTNER Creative Feel

MEDIA SPONSORSHIP Kaya FM

AUTHOR OF CION Zakes Mda

VENUE The Market Theatre

‘ Vuyani Dance Theatre is supported by the National Lotteries Commission’

“Death is the physical body separating from the soul/spirit. It signifies the loss of the physical being.” Phumlani Mndebele

MARKET THEATRE STAFF:

HONORARY PATRONS: Jules Feiffer, Athol Fugard, Dr John Kani, Arthur Mitchell, Winston Ntshona, Janet Suzman, Prof Zakes Mda

SPECIAL AMBASSADOR: Dr John Kani

COUNCIL: Mr Kwanele Gumbi (Chairman), Dr Sebiletso Mokone-Matabane, Mr Peter McKenzie, Mr J Brooks Spector, Mr Cedric Nunn, Mr Kopano Xaba, Ms Shado Twala

MARKET THEATRE FOUNDATION SENIOR MANAGEMENT: Chief Executive Officer: Ismail Mahomed, Artistic Director: James Ngcobo, Chief Financial Officer: Christine McDonald

THE MARKET PHOTO WORKSHOP: Head of Photo Workshop: Lekgetho Makola, Administrative Assistant: Babalwa Mtanga, Cleaner: Nthabiseng Motaung, Coordinator Mentorship & Training: Bekie Ntini, Course Assistant: Lebohang Tlhako, Nathi Khumalo, Patrick Selemani, Phumzile Nkosi, Courses Coordinator: Tebello Mohapi, Manager Administration & Operations: Busi Sithole, Manager Curriculum & Training: Maxine Thomik, Manager PP: Khona Dlamini, Officer Resources: Tswaledi Thobejane, PDP Project Coordinator: Tsepo Gumbi, Projects Assistant: Flurina Casty, Sipho Gongxeka, Receptionist: Magadi Monaheng, Weekend Workshop Assistant: Loyiso Oldjohn

THE MARKET LABORATORY: Education Officer: Clara Louise Vaughan, Administrator: Thandeka Nheke, Venue Technician: Sibusiso Ndumndum

“The role/purpose you were meant for is over.” Otto Nhlapo

MARKET THEATRE STAFF: Accountant: Fazel Mayet, Assistant Front of House Manager: Gabriel Royeppen, Audience Development: Anthony Ezeoke, Box Office: Siwe Hashe, Sonia Teme, Brand and Communications Manager: Zama Sweetness Buthelezi, Cleaning: Bonie Sibanda, Samson Vilakazi, Christine Maseko, Mary Mathebula, Justice Bila Client Liaison Officer: Tebogo Konopi, Simphiwe Boya, Relationship Stakeholder Manager: Penny Morris, Head of Lighting: Nomvula Molepo, Human Resource Manager: Perpetua Matshsa, Producer: Zodwa Shongwe, Production Managers: Hailey Kingston, Thapelo Peter Mokgosi, Project Administrators: Mvuzo Mfobo, Seipati Ncube, Project Co-ordinator: Sipho Mwale, Reception: Busi Letwaba, Front of House Manager: Mavis Nengovhela, Senior Front of House Manager: Thuli Mbuli, Senior Publicist: Lusanda Zokufa-Kathilu, Senior Stage Manager: Motlalepule Makhate, Sound Technician: Ntuthuko Mbuyazi, Supply Chain Management Assistant: Vickey Pienaar, Stage Managers: Emelda Khola, Thulani Mngomezulu, Lebeisa Molapo, Technical Co-ordinator: Floyd Dlamini, Ushers: Alex Magemane, Anthony Myanga, Bohlokoa Matlabe, Froas Masseule, Kabelo Kgang, Mfundo Maumakkwe, Nkosinathi Mnguni, Nonhlanhla Nhlapho, Nosipho Mntungwa, Phumlani Nkwanyana, Rose Ngwenya, Thato Gebashe, Tumelo Mana

“Death is a secret path that releases the spirit from the physical into an unknown journey or destination, only known to the deceased. Death is leaving the known to the unknown.” Julia Burnham

SHARE