Vuyani dances our history on the Soweto stage

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22.05.2006 ' Rhythm Colour' by Gregory Maqoma. Publicity shoot at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg where the work is to be perfomed. Photograph : John Hogg (c.)
22.05.2006 ‘ Rhythm Colour’ by Gregory Maqoma.
Publicity shoot at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg where the work is to be perfomed.
Photograph : John Hogg (c.)

To mark 40 years since the Soweto student uprising, Vuyani Dance Theatre is presenting Rhythm Colour at the Soweto Theatre from 15 to 18 June 2016.

On Youth Day – 16 June – it will be four decades since the schoolchildren of Soweto mobilised against apartheid tuition, and it is fitting that Gregory Maqoma’s landmark 2002 work Rhythm Colour, which evokes the sights, sounds and atmosphere of that fateful time, is being staged in the heart of the township where the tragedy unfolded.

The season at the Soweto Theatre has been commissioned by Joburg City Theatres, supported by the City of Joburg.

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Rhythm Colour was created 14 years ago for the National Arts Festival as Maqoma’s Standard Bank Young Artist commission. It poignantly conjures the mood and volatility surrounding the iconic image of that fateful day: Sam Nzima’s photo of a dying Hector Pieterson, being carried through the streets of Soweto by Mbuyisa Makhubu.

Vuyani dancers will also be presenting a shortened version of the work at Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum on Youth Day, continuing Vuyani’s practice of bringing dance into unconventional spaces to spark discourse using the arts as a conduit.

The museum is presenting a Youth Day forum titled “Let’s Talk!” between 12h00 and 14h00 on 16 June, offering a platform for frank debate for the youth, by the youth. It will be followed by a 45-minute performance of Rhythm Colour. The event is open to the public, and all under-18s will get free entrance to the Apartheid Museum, the forum and the dance performance on the day.

Says Maqoma, the Executive Creative Director of Vuyani: “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.”

22.05.2006 ' Rhythm Colour' by Gregory Maqoma. Publicity shoot at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg where the work is to be perfomed. Photograph : John Hogg (c.)
22.05.2006 ‘ Rhythm Colour’ by Gregory Maqoma.
Publicity shoot at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg where the work is to be perfomed.
Photograph : John Hogg (c.)

“We hope these performances at the Soweto Theatre and Apartheid Museum will bring us back to today where, 40 years on, we ask: What has changed? Though the legacy of apartheid cannot be erased, we have a responsibility as citizens to reflect on and remember the common vision held by the youth of ’76: to eradicate all injustice.”

Over the 14 years since Rhythm Colour premiered in Grahamstown, it has been performed by some 50 dancers and remains an integral part of the Vuyani repertoire and legacy.

Rhythm Colour will be staged in its entirety at the Soweto Theatre in Jabulani at 20h00 on 15, 16 and 17 June, with an 11h00 performance for schoolchildren on Friday, 17 June, and a 15h00 matinee on Saturday, 18 June.

Tickets cost R150 each, or R100 apiece for block bookings of 10 or more. Learners and pensioners pay R60 a ticket. Book at the Soweto Theatre. Visit www.vuyani.co.za,www.sowetotheatre.com or www.apartheidmuseum.org for more information.

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