Danse l’Afrique danse!

Four South Africans are currently showing work on the eighth edition of the influential pan-African dance biennial, Danse l’Afrique danse!

Mamela Nyamza, Shift, a British Council-sponsored piece which featured as part of the 2010 Spier Contemporary
BAMAKO — Four South African dance practitioners,
including choreographer PJ Sabbagha and dancers Gregory Maqoma, Nelisiwe Xaba
and Mamela Nyamza, are currently in the Malian capital of Bamako for the eighth
edition of the influential pan-African dance biennial, Danse l’Afrique danse!

The event, a rendezvous for artists and programmers from
Africa and the Indian Ocean, includes a busy programme of performances, talks
and workshops. Highlights include a performance of PJ Sabbagha’s production
Deep Night, which is being performed by the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collective.

Official poster Sabbagha is one of ten choreographers shortlisted for the
biennial’s top prize, a creative grant of €5000 for a project in 2011/2012. Previous
recipients of the biennial award include Robyn Orlin, Sello Pesa and Boyzie
Cekwana. In 2006 Sabbagha was commissioned by The Dance Factory to produce an
interpretation of Shakespeare’s MacBeth and earlier this year showed Deep Night
at the 2010 FNB Dance Umbrella, Johannesburg.

Amongst the dancers, Gregory Maqoma is performing Beautiful
Me, a work previously staged in Birmingham in 2007 and described by one
reviewer as “complex and
difficult”. Nelisiwe Xaba, a previous visitor to Bamako, is
performing Sakhozi says ‘non’ to the Venus. Described as a “searingly political
solo”, the work is directed by Toni Morkel.

Dancer Mamela Nyamza, winner of 2011 Standard Bank Young
Artist Award for dance, is performing her work Hatched (without her son
Amkele). The work premièred at
this year’s Grahamstown National Arts Festival and offers an
autobiographical look at how the
dancer’s decision to deliberately shirk the
conventions of marriage and religion as well as her Xhosa culture and
traditions has affected her life
as a young artist, mother and
woman.

Read Carl Collison’s profile
of Mamela Nyamza.