Since its premiere at The Market Theatre (co-producers of the piece) on Africa Day in 2017, Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero will be embarking on its maiden tour to Sibiu International Theatre Festival in Romania, to be presented on the main festival stage, Teatrul Național Radu Stanca on 15 June and, symbolically, on 16 June 2018.
Upon the cast’s return to South Africa, the production will tour locally to Artscape Theatre in Cape Town from 6 to 8 July 2018 and a performance at Sand Du Plessis Theatre, which is a venue that forms part of the Vrystaat Kunstefees/Arts Festival. The lead, Toloki, will be performed by Vuyani’s senior dancer Otto Nhlapo, who is no stranger to international stages.
This production is in line with Vuyani Dance Theatre’s 2020 Creative Vision of cultivating the creative sector and to add value to the creative economy at this very challenging economic time facing the arts by collaborating with local and international theatres and festivals. Gregory Maqoma brings to the fore the importance of works like these to be a precursor to the demise of humanity, an opportunity to mourn our past and present.
The effects of migration, war in the continent and slavery are embodied in the characters that author Zakes Mda pens with detail in his books Ways of Dying and Cion, focusing on the character Toloki, the professional mourner at the time of South Africa’s new democracy.
The cast is made up of dancers and musicians who weave through the landscape of death symbolised by graveyards and a black canvas backdrop superbly designed by Maqoma’s long-time stage and lighting designer, Oliver Hauser.
Mannie Manim, a multi-award-winning lighting designer and theatre producer who brings to the production over 50 years of experience, intricately and cleverly designed the lighting to be emotionally searing for audiences.
Co-producer: Vuyani Dance Theatre
Co-producer: The Market Theatre Foundation
Conceiver, Choreographer and Director: Gregory Maqoma
Supporting Movement Analyst/Dramaturgy: Shanell Winlock
Rehearsal Assistant: Lulu Mlangeni
Musical Director and Composer: Nhlanhla Mahlangu
Composition Assistant: Xolisile Bongwana
Set Design and Technical Director: Oliver Hauser
Lighting Design: Mannie Manim
Sound Designer: Ntuthuko Mbuyazi
Maqoma’s collaborative skill has always produced a multifaceted approach to music, design, text and movement, extending the South African vocabulary, particularly in Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero with the use of Isicathamiya, led by four voices who interpret Maurice Ravel’s Bolero composition with a fresh take, layered in language and rhythm, composed by Nhlanhla Mahlangu with additional compositions by Xolisile Bongwana who becomes the voice of Toloki, like a shadow in the dark with his haunting voice.
Zakes Mda says, ‘I fell in love with Maqoma’s work when he was still a student and he composed and choreographed an elaborate piece inspired by some harrowing historical events. After the show, I told Adrienne Sichel, a foremost dance critic of the day, that this young man will take South African dance to new international heights. He has since proved me right. I have followed and been highly inspired by his work, which has also bedazzled the world. My family and I have driven for a day and a night across the states of America just to watch a piece like Exit/Exist, the most awe-inspiring performance I’ve seen in my life. In turn, that piece has inspired a lot of my painting. I’m therefore greatly honoured that he has found inspiration from my novels and the characters that I’ve created to come up with this magical and soaring piece.’