Thursday 25 May saw the opening of the much anticipated CION by Gregory Maqoma and his Vuyani Dance Theatre on the John Kani stage at The Market Theatre. This brand new work brings author Zakes Mda’s character Toloki to life on stage, based on Cion the follow up to Ways of Dying. Toloki, the professional mourner has traveled across the world and uncovers the story of runaway slaves.
The show opens with a solo performance by Gregory Maqoma, as the multi-faceted Toloki, dancing to acapella music performed by an isicathamiya troupe alongside some vocals by the Vuyani dancers.
Set in a graveyard, the Vuyani Dancers who had been on stage mourning quietly, yet audibly, during the solo performance slowly come to life and join Maqoma on a journey through various emotions associated with death and mourning. The work tries to find humanity and feeling, that appears to be lost in modern times where “we have all become professional mourners”.
Gregory Maqoma and the Vuyani Dancers put on an incredible show, with dance pieces ranging from joyous to hauntingly beautiful.
All the dancing took place to a breathtaking performance by an isicathamiya troupe directed by Xolisile Bongwana and Nhlanhla Mahlangu. Not to take anything at all from the amazing dancing, the music was truly incredible, with impressive vocal performances by Nhlanhla Mahlangu, Xolisle Bongwana, Sbusiso Shozi and Simphiwe Bonongo, expanding Ravel’s Bolero into an hour long requiem.
This show stirred so much emotion in me through the combination of incredible music and impressive dancing. On the way home from this performance, still at a loss for words to describe all that I had experienced, both visually and emotionally, I wondered if anything could be done to make the show better. I wondered if perhaps it could have been a little longer, but the show was a perfect length, long enough to be complete, and still leave you with something of a desire for more.
This show is a must see, and I will be buying tickets to see this show once more before the end of the run. I spoke to Maqoma about the music after the show and told him that I’d have purchased the soundtrack if it had been available, the good news is, that he is planning to have a recording made.
My advice is this, stop what you’re doing and get tickets while you can.