Gregory Maqoma, international multiple-award winning dancer and artistic director of Vuyani Dance Company (VDC), is set to make a solo appearance at Rand Merchant Bank Starlight Classics at Vergelegen Wine Estate in the Cape Winelands this March. Over the years through VDC, I have built a strong partnership with Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), an innovative brand that welcomes our quest for unique creativity,’ says Gregory Maqoma, founder and director of VDC. ‘I want my debut solo performance on the RMB Starlight Classics stage to be spectacular and a highlight of their show.’ He adds that while he has choreographed for the show previously, he is looking forward to collaborating with the director to create something particularly memorable for this year’s audience.
‘RMB Starlight Classics is a celebration of the arts, embracing both music and movement. I will work closely with the conductor and music arranger to understand how the dance piece integrates with the musical development of the overall event. The final dance piece will therefore not only ‘fit in’ but also stand out in its true artistic form,’ says Maqoma. He acknowledges that a piece of choreography is enhanced by other elements such as the stage and lighting. ‘The designers – a team that I trust – are influential in terms of colour schemes and the direction we want to take.’
Costumes also play a vital role, he explains. ‘For me a costume is an extension of the choreography, and of the story. So it has to make sense to the piece; but I also have to make sense of the costume and sometimes adapt the choreography to make them work hand in hand.’ This appearance at RMB Starlight Classics continues the celebration that began with VDC’s presentation of Greg Maqoma & Friends in December 2015, of Maqoma’s 25 years in the dance industry. Appreciative and enthusiastic audiences packed into the Lyric Theatre to see Maqoma perform alongside some of the celebrated singers, dancers, comedians, fashion designers and other personalities with whom he has collaborated over the years – not to mention 200 enthusiastic learners from VDC’s outreach programme.
RMB ‘played a big part in Greg Maqoma & Friends,’ says Maqoma, who speaks of last year’s RMB Starlight Classics in Johannesburg as a ‘pre-party’ to the celebration of his 25 years. ‘There was a lot of dance and the company (VDC) was really featured well. At RMB Starlight Classics, there is a care and respect for artists and their respective art forms – in fact for everything that happens on the stage. I have complete confidence that this new work will be treated with the same care and respect.’ With the show looming, Maqoma and VDC are hard at work, as always, adding ‘another visual layer; another dimension’ to the show.
Bringing dance to an event that is predominantly dedicated to music is one way that VDC can reach new audiences and introduce people who might otherwise never experience dance, to the beauty of this art form. But above all, says Maqoma, ‘for us, together with RMB, it is about cementing that relationship – the beautiful, amazing partnership in performance that we share.’