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Wednesday, July 10, 2013


(Gregory Maqoma. Pic by Suzy Bernstein)

Riveting and thought-provoking dance work. (Review by Caroline Smart)

The thunderous and length spontaneous standing ovation said it all. Gregory Maqoma’s Exist/Exist was an undeniable National Arts Festival winner.

Looking to his ancestral past for inspiration in the personage of Chief Maqoma, who was born in 1798 and had his land and cattle taken by British colonists before being imprisoned on Robben Island for 12 years, Maqoma has choreographed a riveting and thought-provoking dance work. He is a consummate dancer and it is a luxurious experience to watch him in action.

Co-produced by the KVS (Belgium), Theatre de la Ville (France) and Dance Umbrella (SA), Exit/Exist was presented in Belgium in December, 2011. After this première, it was reworked and re-rehearsed and presented at the Dance Umbrella 2012, to full houses and great acclaim. After a tour of Amsterdam, Greece and the UK in July of that year, Maqoma felt it was time for the work to be seen by the greater South African public. The perfect platform was the National Arts Festival which is based in the Eastern Cape, where his story originates.

Exist/Exist has a rock solid creative team with James Ngcobo as director, multi-award winning Simphiwe Dana as composer, costume design by David Tlale, sound design by Andile Mpahlwa and visual landscape by Oliver Hauser.

Dana’s music plays as much a part of the production as the choreography. Guitarist Giuliano Modarelli leading the excellent quartet of Quartet Happy Motha, Bubele Mgele, Bonginkosi Zulu and Linda Thobela did full justice to her splendid score, aided by Sbulele Gcilitshana’s narration.

As the programme notes say, it is “a story that has seen a family torn apart and a new generation (in Gregory Maqoma) making peace with it and finding the relevance in this piece of history in the now, the existing now”.

Don’t miss Exit/Exist if it comes to a performance venue near you. (Review by Caroline Smart)