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Thursday, August 16, 2018


(Snethemba Khuzwayo and Aphelele Nyawose with Simthandile Nombuso Nomthandazo Mtolo, Mary Aphane, Zandile Tshapha & Phumzile Zondo on the stage. 
Pic by Val Adamson)

This is a beautiful work by Musa Hlatshwayo - fast-moving, filled with energy and visually exhilarating. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Musa Hlatshwayo and Mhayise Productions’ new creation, Ndoni, is a multimedia dance theatre piece which was commissioned by the Playhouse Company for the 22nd South African Women’s Arts Festival where it had a successful run last week.

A dancer, choreographer and this year’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Dance, Hlatshwayo has designed the interesting costumes and the set which is enhanced by excellent lighting design by Lerato Ledwaba.

Hlatshwayo is fast becoming known for his innovative use of props. In Ndoni, there is a raised platform upstage with a backdrop depicting 90 loaves of brown bread. The loaves resemble the mud-made bricks of many black households and refer to the religious connotations of bread.

Over 30 cabbages hang down at various levels on long strands halfway along the front of the stage, almost providing a screen to view the action behind it. As Hlatshwayo explains: “[The cabbage] like bread, is an iconic vegetable in black households”. It can be home-grown and is versatile and affordable.

A row of takkies/tekkies known within the Zulu Culture as “Gogo Shoes" or “oMaCele” (The Mama Celes). lies along the side of the stage, marking the path that has been travelled by 'the gogos'. A dress rail at the bottom of the stairs carrying the costume changes is specifically lit, forming part of the set. AV screens are on either side of the stage. At one time, we see a traditionally-clad pair of feet moving in the corn stalks which highlights a female character trying to deal with the fact that she has a spiritual journey which demands for her life to ultimately change..

Setting the scene are two young dancers hopping around on a board of squares, chanting cheerfully in isiZulu: “Mom, I am hungry, may I have some food?” They often write letters in chalk on the floor to their mothers who are away working in the city. These are Snethemba ZamaCoober Khuzwayo and Aphelele Nyawose, young dancers in training at Mhayise Productions’ Movement Lab. These are definitely two talents to watch, offering very professional performances.

In an inspirational choice of singer and voice artiste, the show is led by guitarist and singer Phumzile Zondo who also proves she’s a highly competent dancer and as adept at movement as she is with song and poetry. Sharing the platform with her and also involved in the dance sequences is voice artist Simthandile Nombuso Nomthandazo Mtolo providing an impressive vocal soundscape with suitable noises such as heavy breathing, moaning and sighing.

The two main dancers are Zandile Tshapha and Mary Aphane who give beautiful performances, providing just the right moods and energy for this story which is inspired by the varied journeys of the women warriors whose courageous love for life prompted them to step out of the confines of their rural homes in the quest for a better and liberated life. At one point, a cabbage is tenderly cradled like a new-born baby.

Another moving scene is when Simthandile tells one of the little girls a story about a greedy farmer who learnt an important lesson. I believe this story could become a drama or dance production in its own right.

This is a beautiful work by Musa Hlatshwayo - fast-moving, filled with energy and visually exhilarating. Like his Udodana which premiered at the 2018 National Arts Festival, don’t miss Ndoni if it comes your way! – Caroline Smart

For more information on Mhayise Productions’ Movement Laboratory, email: