national Arts Festival Banner

Sunday, December 4, 2011


(Pic by Val Adamson: Musa Hlatshwayo and Busi Deyi)

In October, Mhayise Productions run by acclaimed dancer and choreographer Musa Hlatshwayo, represented South Africa at the 2nd edition of Dance Transmissions in Kampala (Uganda) in a line-up of top international artists. The festival closed with a duet extract of Hlatshwayo’s Dayimane! which he performed alongside the multi-talented Busi Deyi. Accompanying them was Mthandazo Mofokeng in his capacity as a designing technician and stage manager.

After the Uganda visit, Dayimane! II then went on to perform at the 5th edition of the Festival of Solos and Duets in Nairobi (Kenya) hosted by Dance Forum Nairobi.

Both festivals boasted an international line-up of artists from Burkina Faso, Congo DRC, Germany, Italy, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and the United States of America. They included discussion seminars, workshops and performances, with Hlatshwayo appearing on the panel.

Dayimane! premiered at the Square Space Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in May, 2011, where it was very well received. It featured five versatile performers including Hlatshwayo and some of Mhayise Production’s regulars like Busi Deyi and Ngcebo Nzama (KZN Dancelink’s most promising dancer 2008 and Footsteps to Fortune’s top 10 finalist 2009). Also featured were Mpume Ngwenya and the eloquent award-winning Imbongi of Chief Hadebe of St Faiths; Imbongi James Mbhele.

“Multi-award winning dancer and choreographer Musa Hlatshwayo can always be relied on to produce excellent work that reflects and respects his Zulu culture and resonates with its traditions, all skilfully incorporated into a contemporary dance presentation. His latest, Dayimane!, is no different. Compelling and innovative...” Caroline Smart of

While preparing for the tour, the idea arose to create an extract from Dayimane! that could be used for both East African festivals. The resulting reworked 40-minute duet extract, Dayimane! II, saw roles and characters split between Musa Hlatshwayo and Busi Deyi. An introspection of the role of Nguni cows in Nguni identity, this work is now firmly entrenched in Mhayise Production’s repertoire. It will be seen on local and international stages soon.

“I am truly grateful for the invitations from the festivals, the sponsorship from AMA and the warm embrace that we got from the networks we made,” says Hlatshwayo. ”This was a wonderful opportunity for me and the company to reconnect with the East African arts community whose spirit and creativity I truly admire - and a chance for us to showcase the extract in East African countries like Uganda and Kenya. It felt good to reconnect with the arts communities of both countries and to share stories and experiences through workshops and seminars as well as through our informal chats. We learned a lot about the East African artists and their working conditions and how they use the arts as a tool for social mobilization and education above just mere entertainment.”

“We also learned more about how the subject matter - the role of Nguni cows in our lives – resonates in the communities of the countries we were in,” Hlatshwayo continues. “One of the most moving moments was discovering the role cows played in Rwanda and how people were classified according to class, status and tribal association, based on the number of cows they possessed - thus contributing to the genocide.”

This was not the first time that Hlatshwayo has toured East Africa. His Umthombi, a duet following the rites of passage of a young boy in the presence of his mentoring herdsman, was sponsored by IFAS and Culturesfrances to tour 11 countries in East Africa in 2007. This is when he created networks with other artists who had joined him during his workshops or who were in the audience and were then moved to maintain contact with him.

“It was also good to see the many friends that I have made in East Africa and some of the artists that I have been mentoring for sometime now, including Isack Peter and his Lumumba Dance Theatre Company,” says Hlatshwayo. “Because of lack of finances, we are unable to meet and spend more time together. Our exchanges are usually done via the web and this was another special meeting for us as we got to spend time catching up, doing classes and workshops and discussing possible future plans.”

Follow Mhayise Productions’ activities on Facebook to access pictures and information of the group’s current and previous projects. Mhayise Productions is grateful to Arts Move Africa (AMA) for their sponsorship during this tour.