Southern African Rock Art brought to life through Dance


After years of research, writing and creating, Sylvia ‘Magogo’ Glasser, cultural activist, dancer, teacher, choreographer, mentor, social anthropologist and writer, has committed to print a ground-breaking publication documenting her approach to the creation of a theatre dance work, Tranceformations, which was produced in 1991 with dancers from the renowned Moving Into Dance (MID) company, based in Newtown.

Sylvia Glasser Photograph: John Hogg (c.)
Sylvia Glasser
Photograph: John Hogg (c.)

It is fitting that the book will be launched on Saturday September 28 during Heritage Month at the John Kani Theatre, Market Theatre precinct at 15:30 and will include a performance of the dance work by MID. This is a unique opportunity to witness San Rock Art interpreted through dance, purchase this ground-breaking publication and to meet Glasser herself, a Living Legend and recipient of the Order of Ikhamanga Silver and a Knighthood from the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

- Advertisement -

The trance dance and healing ritual depicted in ancient Southern African rock art, as well as the transformative powers it embodied, inspired the creation of Tranceformations. Dance, social and cultural anthropology, archaeology and history, are woven into the story of Glasser’s journey of research, discovery, dilemmas and decisions that led to the creation of a ground-breaking contemporary theatrical creation, new South African aesthetics and the empowerment of historically marginalised African dancers.

At the heart of this book are issues of cultural appropriation, cultural exclusivity, cultural fusion or hybridisation and Afrofusion. Interviews with the dancers show in real terms how shared creative experiences can lead to tolerance of the “other” and how culture can be a moving, transforming facet of our lives.

Through a grant from the National Arts Council (NAC) of South Africa, 100 copies of this book will be distributed to under-resourced schools and arts communities throughout South Africa.

Adrienne Sichel, veteran South African theatre journalist, dance writer, researcher and author of Body Politics: Fingerprinting South African Contemporary Dance (2018), has this to say:

“This heritage publication is a major addition to dance pedagogy, dance writing and literature per se. The text and illustrations, which have academic gravitas, provide access to chapters of South African history and art-making in an articulately accessible form. The writer’s profound activist legacy is now, thankfully, also enshrined in print”.

Books will be on sale at R240 .

This is a free public event.

RSVP is essential (by 18 September) to

Presented and produced by The Ar(t)chive NPC in collaboration with Sylvia ‘Magogo’ Glasser, MIDM, Jacana Staging Post and the Market Theatre Foundation.

Enabled by the NAC with sponsorship from BASA.

With special thanks to The Rock Art Research Institute (RARI) for the San Rock Art tracings in the book and iconic dance and theatre photographers John Hogg, Suzy Bernstein and Thabo Sebatlelo for the photographs.

Additional performances:

Two additional performances will lead up to the event on September 26 and 27 at 19:00, also in the John Kani Theatre. These are specifically aimed at schools but all are welcome. The MIDM company will perform Tranceformations and Bolero, both part of the school curriculum. The Dancers will engage the audience in a question and answer session and books will be on sale before and after the performances.

Tickets cost R90 for scholars and R150 for adults, available at Webtickets

Leave a Reply