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Encore: Gregory Maqoma

Gregory Maqoma Vuyani Dance Theatre
Gregory Maqoma PHOTO Stella Olivier

Gregory Maqoma is the founder and creative director of Vuyani Dance Theatre, which also comprises Vuyani Dance Company and Vuyani Dance Trust. ‘I am responsible for all creative input and output as well as achieving strategic goals of the company and providing creative leadership,’ he says. Some of Maqoma’s achievements include being bestowed the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Arts & Literature) by the French Government and he is the choreographer of Tree, a project created by Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah, which was on at the Young Vic Theatre in London until the end of August 2019.

Name three artworks that you love and why.
Nelson Makamo’s visual art is remarkably striking and sits very well with my values and beliefs, which embody peace and harmony and protection of women and children.
The Head & The Load. It was created by William Kentridge and I am a choreographer and performer in it. The work remembers the African soldiers who were never recognised for their bravery in World War I. 
The Maxhosa brand by Laduma Ngxokolo for his originality and celebration of Xhosa culture by mixing textiles and knitwear to produce unique pieces of fashion that look good on a runway but also on display at home. 

Name one artist you would love to meet.
If he was alive, definitely Michael Jackson. He inspired me as a kid and I grew up imitating his dance moves. 

What are you reading at the moment?
I am re-reading The Zulus of New York by Zakes Mda – I find it to be hugely inspiring and fascinating. 

What is in your car’s CD player?
Different projects: Ravel’s Boléro, Sounds of Blackness, Soweto Gospel Choir, and Mi Mandela by Idris Elba.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I am not sure if there is anything I want to change – certainly, my past mistakes have helped me grow as a person and as an artist. 

How have the arts industries in South Africa changed over the last ten years?
Artists are making remarkable strides and it is evident that everywhere you look now in the world, South African artists are leading the pack in dance, theatre, visual art, music and films… we have stories to tell and artists are doing it in their own unique ways. However, local support is still lacking, and our dwindling economy will only add to the stress that individuals and companies are feeling. More than ever, we need to engage as a sector to give ourselves hope. 

Name one thing you think would improve the arts and culture industry in South Africa.
Collaboration, partnerships – working together to unite the sector. 

What is your most treasured possession?
My iPhone – it allows me to carry the music I collect as I travel.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Not being able to think, to be creatively stagnant. 

What is it that makes you happy?
Seeing work that challenges my conscience and touches on all my senses.

Describe a defining moment in your life.
I think I am still searching for it, but definitely, this year I am able to say that the company I founded in 1999, Vuyani Dance Theatre, is turning 20. Not only is this a defining moment for me, but for all those that have come through the doors of the organisation. 

What projects will you be busy with during 2019 and into 2020? 
Vuyani Dance Theatre’s 20th anniversary with Soweto Gospel Choir from 5 to 15 September at Joburg Theatre. I am currently in the studio with visual artist Mohau Modisakeng as part of our research for a 2020 project. I will also be working also with composer Thuthuka Sibisi on my new project for 2021, Broken Chord, which is based on the first South African choir to tour the UK in 1891. 

Name one goal you would like to achieve in the next twelve months.
To finish my master’s at Wits Univesity and actually graduate.

To keep up-to-date with the latest arts and culture news in South Africa, purchase the September 2019 issue of Creative Feel or subscribe to our monthly magazine from only R180.00 to R365.00 per year! SUBSCRIBE HERE!

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