For the first time since 2014, Gregory Maqoma will present a work at Vuyani Week in 2018. As is to be expected from the acclaimed choreographer, the piece is one which will spark dialogue and potentially change the way we think of the future.
With our country having gone into a technical recession, Gregory Maqoma, founder of Vuyani Dance Theatre, choreographer, dancer and recipient of the French government’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters), felt that it is very important to create a piece that can motivate and give hope to South African youth. Rise, Maqoma’s new work, will be an opportunity to start a discourse among youth that it is up to them to rise to the occasion and be determined and committed to rebuilding our country’s spirit of ubuntu and be hopeful of a greater South Africa. After four years of not creating for the annual Vuyani Week platform, Maqoma will present Rise, casting the full company in the work.
Maqoma’s last work that was presented at Vuyani Week in 2014 was Blind, a duet that confronted traditional and contemporary forms of life and dance. He interrogated how the pulse of urban metropolises change traditional cultural techniques, what the relationship between deeply anchored and painfully repressed history and global currents is and how movements, tempos and rhythms mix. The piece acknowledged that the political landscape in South Africa is very complex, with tensions always present, and it highlighted the individual power to dare to break, to change modes, and to find synergies.
Vuyani Week is a platform for emerging dance creatives to explore their craft and to choreograph pieces that express their individual voice within a company. The company has seen the likes of Luyanda Sidiya creating his own aesthetic, a fusion of African rhythms and movement in a piece he created for Vuyani Week, Umnikelo. This was a creation with live music, alluding to the act of being submissive by will towards a deity form or a force beyond physical comprehension.
Otto Nhlapo, in a stirring production, Interpellation, challenged how society exists within the confines of an endless force that has evolved over time. How it prospers through tightening its grip on us and how we loyally obey its demands. Even after its architects have long gone, a foundation so strong has been laid that it surpasses the boundaries of time.
The annual platform has also seen very strong female choreographers emerging with thought-provoking pieces that challenge the way society treats its women, demanding a moment to reflect on the state of our country. In Matlou, Julia Burnham was inspired by the ‘addiction’ to abuse, the cause of excuses behind the common threads of mental, physical and emotional entrapment. Lulu Mlangeni added her voice with Page 27, speaking directly to societies and interrogating our actions regarding inequalities and gender equities.
These choreographers have gone on to enjoy successful careers in their own rights, and forms a foundational platform that will continue to ensure that a new generation of dancers in the Vuyani stable will find their voices and be able to tell their own stories through movement.
Vuyani Week takes place from 30 November to 2 December.