Creation date : 1991



First performed 1991

Conception Sylvia Magogo' Glasser

This choreography was inspired by Bushman or San rock art and trance dancing.  The San were the indigenous hunting and gathering people of southern Africa.  Their trance dance or healing ritual and their rock art were both part of their complex belief system.  It is likely that their rock art arose out of the experiences of the shamans or medicine men.  During the healing ritual the medicine men acquired supernatural potency and they experienced an altered state of consciousness.

Tranceformations explores the physical sensations, hallucinations, and transformations visualized and experienced by the ritual healers while in trance.  All the images in the choreography were depicted on the San rock art.  The dance shows what the shamans do, feel and see.  The final transformation in our journey takes the San into the modern world.  This dance pays tribute to a dispossessed people and their culture. The choreographer drew on the work of archeologist David Lewis Williams of the Wits Rock Art Research Unit for her research.

Press quotes

The Citizen Wednesday 16 October 1991 - Marilyn Jenkins

Tranceformations is more than a courageous, and startingly effective, danced expression of Bushman art ; it is a homage to a lost culture and a remarkable fusion of an African dynamic with Western contemporary movement. Another dimension is also added by the utter sincerity with which the dancers follow this intensly ritualised progression towards the trance state of the shamans or medicine men. ‘



Tranceformations programme notes Premiere 9-12th October 1991

Choreographed by Sylvia Magogo Glasser

Music Shaun Naidoo

Sets and Costumes Sarah Roberts

Performed by Moving into Dance Company

Assistant to the choreographer Nan Hamilton

Premiered at Wits Theatre

Funded by Nedbank


Vincent Mantsoe, Gregory Maqoma, Eric Lehana, Moeketsi Koena, Pule Kgaratsi, Justice Ntshoene, Portia Mashigo, Angie Sekonya, Sizakele Sithembe, Tshidi Shuping, Tanya Sutton, Nan Hamilton.

Latest update : September 2013

Glasser, Sylvia 'Magogo'

Sylvia ‘Magogo' Glasser was born in 1940 in Pietersburg, in the Northern Transvaal (which became Polokwane in Limpopo Province).

Training :

Glasser graduated with a Diploma from London College of Dance and Drama (1960-1963), a BA from the University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg (1973), and an MA in Dance from the University of Clear Lake City, Houston, Texas (1977).


The ballet-trained Glasser started Experimental Dance Theatre, an annual platform for new choreography in Johannesburg in 1967, and co-organised and choreographed for eight programmes. Amongst places where she taught were the Federated Union of Black Artists, and the African Cultural Centre.

She has also taught, lectured and choreographed at universities and colleges internationally. Amongst places where she taught were the Federated Union of Black Artists, and the African Cultural Centre.

In the 1980's she developed the concept of Edudance - a methodology using dance to teach academic subjects and social issues.

Glasser has written ten academic papers which have been presented at international conferences and published in international journals with two appearing in books.


Her deep respect for, and interest in, indigenous South African culture led to her pioneering ‘Afrofusion' in her choreography from 1977.

She founded Moving into Dance (MID), in 1978, during the height of apartheid as a non-racial dance company and training organisation in her garage in the suburb of Victory Park, and was director of this organization, later titled Moving Into Dance Mophatong, from 1978 – 2013.


1990                David Webster Memorial Award for academic excellence over 3 years in Social Anthropology, University of the Witwatersrand

1992                Nominated for the AA Vita for Choreographer of the Year Award for Tranceformations

1994                Winner of the FNB Vita Choreographer of the Year Award for “Stone Cast Ritual”.

1997               Received a FNB Vita Special award with Moving into Dance for “developing a uniquely South African voice in contemporary choreography and dance, acknowledged both here and abroad. With your distinctive style, your ongoing education and outreach programmes have since 1978 made dance accessible to communities throughout South Africa.”

1998               Nominated for FNB Vita Choreography Award for “Passage of Rites”

1999               One of Top 100 People of 1998 in the Star Newspaper.

2000                Received FNB Vita Special Awards as “one of South Africans' national cultural treasures, a remarkable social activist whose exceptional work, in specifically African dance, has changed lives, perceptions and the face of South African dance”.

2004                Received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arts and Culture Trust of SA.

2005               Recipient of the “Tunkie” Award for leadership in dance.

2007                Nominated for Gauteng MEC Dance Award for Best Choreography in a Contemporary Style for “Blankets of Shame.

2008                Cited as one of Top 100 People in The Star

2010                Honoured by Minister of Arts and Culture Lulu Xingwana and received one of Department of Arts and Culture awards “Tribute to Women in the Arts and Culture Sector” on Women's Day at the State Theatre


After  a long and prolific carreer in dance Glasser is in retirement.

More information

Latest update : September 13

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