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16 Jun 2024 14:30


Vuyani Dance Theatre commemorates 30 years of South Africa’s Democracy at Soweto Theatre

This year, 2024, marks 30 years of the South African Democracy and marking 25 years of Vuyani Dance Theatre as a pioneering contemporary dance company that uses history as a pad to tell our collective stories. Gregory Maqoma’s Rhythm Colour and Cion Cothoza will be the vehicle used this year to reflect on our past and take a moment to pay homage to those who lost their lives in the fight toward South Africa’s democracy.
Restaging Rhythm Colour, which was created in 2002 by Founder and Executive Creative Director, Gregory Maqoma for the National Arts Festival as a Standard Bank Young Artist commission, poignantly conjures the mood surrounding the iconic image of that fateful day in 1976: Sam Nzima’s photo of a dying Hector Pieterson, being carried through the streets of Soweto by Mbuyisa Makhubu.

Rhythm Colour gives us an opportunity to reflect through movement, music, storytelling and archived historical material to allow healing to manifest by remembering and honouring the youth of 1976, while also acknowledging the plight of injustices facing our youth today. The retaliation, the chaos, the confusion, the lack of trust in the system, the finger-pointing, the fires erupting… all of these elements are part of Rhythm Colour, and the archived political content on video give context to the ideas and allow the dancers to interpret them and bring them to life.

Cion Cothoza is adaption of the world revered Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero performed by proteges from the National School of the Arts Music and Drama department and Siyanqoba Academy. Cion Cothoza makes a return to Johannesburg after short season at Joburg Theatre in October 2023 during the 50th celebrations of Vuyani’s Founder. Much like Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero this adaptation takes influence from Zake’s Mda’s character Toloki, a professional mourner during South Africa’s early democracy, in his books titled Ways of Dying and Cion coupled with Maurice Ravel’s Bolero.

“Our common humanity as Africans dictates that as we rose against colonial oppression and slavery, our impulse today must rise to propel us to do everything possible to get rid of all factors of human degradation. It is time we stand together to attack poverty, racism, xenophobia and any related intolerances to truly rebuild our communities” shares Gregory Maqoma.

This short season at Soweto Theatre salutes our brothers and sisters who changed the education system and the apartheid policy and we also pay our respect to those that have lost their lives senselessly in recent times. Vuyani Dance Theatre is grateful to our funding partner the National Arts Council and Joburg City Theatres, especially Soweto Theatre for acknowledging and supporting this initiative, which in itself constitutes a tribute to the millions of our people and a profound statement of hope that all of us will, together through the arts, respond to and expand the frontiers of human dignity.

Many of us continue to draw inspiration from those stalwarts and comrades who have laid such a solid foundation, and their legacy is evident in our unstinting passion to dance, sing and to change the world one step at a time.

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