Exit / Exist
Through a journey of initiation, the South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma explores the memory of his distant ancestor, the rebel leader of the Xhosa ethnic group.
If everyone is the custodian of a lineage of memories and stories, some bodies retain greater traces of these than others. With 'Exit/Exist', which he choreographed under the direction of James Ngcobo, the South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma abundantly proves this. This breathtaking work, supported by a remarkable musical composition by Simphiwe Dana, is taken from the history of Jongumsobomvu Maqoma, one of the most renowned Xhosa leaders, who was born in 1798, arrested when he ordered the English colonisers to liberate Xhosa land, and died in prison in 1873. Maqoma is considered a “factor of historical transformation”. However, instead of a history lesson in its strictest sense, Gregory Maqoma's show is a sensitive journey, an exploration of memory.
His back to the audience, dressed in a silk suit, dancing to the gravely throbbing rhythm of guitarist Giuliano Modarelli, Maqoma seems to allow a melody to surge out of himself, a melody which gradually becomes a bodily rhythm. Each thought thus becomes an embodied movement; clear, precise and chiselled into the space. The shoulders, hips, hands and legs become the instruments of a bodily orchestra that invents its own score. When the singers Bubele Mgele, Linda Thobela, Happy Motha and Bonginkosi Zulu arrive on stage, Gregory Maqoma gradually adopts more traditional rhythmic lines.
Maqoma the contemporary dancer then becomes Maqoma, the ancestral Xhosa leader.
This is an extraordinary shift in identity that swims up the river of History. In this metamorphosis, he becomes an animal, a young bull whose attributes evoke the virility of the rebel leader as well as the importance of cattle in the pastoral life of the Xhosa people. By occupying their land, as with the useless sacrifice of cattle, the colonial power at the time destroyed the very foundations of the Xhosa nation. Trance translates this "loss" of both power and identity in an extremely evocative way. The final image of the shattered, defeated leader – shackled at the ankles, exiled from his native land – is particularly eloquent. When the piece ends on the piercing question “where is the herd?”, we do not know whether it refers to animals or human beings.
This vibrant homage to the ancestors through the recognition of their fight, which was not to be in vain, becomes an incredible history lesson in the noblest sense of the term.
Source : Maison de la Danse
Maqoma, Gregory Vuyani
Born in Soweto in 1973 (October 16), Gregory Vuyani Maqoma discovered dance at a youth club. He began his training in 1990 with Moving Into Dance, the famous dance school founded by Sylvia Glasser and based in Johannesburg, from which he joined the company as a dancer. In 1994, his first creation for the company won the FNB Vita Pick of the Fringe prize; one year later, he was a prizewinner again, this time in the Stepping Stones category. In 1998, he received a grant to create “Layers of Time”, his last work with the Moving Into Dance Company.
In 1999, another grant allowed him to study at P.A.R.T.S for one year, and it was in Brussels that he founded the Vuyani Dance Theater Project, for which he created “Rhythm 1.2.3”, presented at the Amsterdam Festival. This piece earned him the choreographer of the year 2000 award at the Dance Umbrella Festival Johannesburg. The same year, he choreographed “Rhythm Blues”, collaborated with Faustin Linyekula on the project “Tales of the Mud Wall”, which was presented at the ImpulsTanz Festival Vienna and participated in the “New directions” project for the Standard Bank National Arts Festival.
From the repertoire of the company, “Moving Cities” (2001), “Révolution” (2001) and “Southern Comfort” (2001) all enjoyed considerable success.
In France, Gregory Maqoma presented “Southern Comfort” in 2002 at the Centre national de la danse, “Miss Thandi” in 2003 and “Beautiful” in 2005, the first part in a trilogy which concludes with “Beautiful Me”. In 2006, he and the London Sinfonietta performed “Variations for vibes, strings & pianos”, choreographed by Akram Khan, at the Cité de Musique, to mark the 70th birthday of the American composer Steve Reich. In 2010, he performed the piece “Southern Bound Comfort” by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui with his former dancer Shanell Winlock. In 2013 he created “Kudu” with the French musician Erik Truffaz, presented at the Festival of Marseilles.
Dancer, choreographer and teacher, Gregory Maqoma is regarded as one of the most talented new generation artists in South Africa. Head of one of the rare contemporary dance companies supported by the South African government, he lives and works in Johannesburg.
Further information https://vuyani.co.za/
Born in 1977, Fabien Plasson is a video director specialized in the field of performing arts (dance , music, etc).
During his studies at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Lyon (joined in 1995) Fabien discovered video art. He was trained by various video artists (Joel Bartoloméo Pascal Nottoli , Eric Duyckaerts , etc) .
He first experimented with the creation of installations and cinematic objects.
From 2001 to 2011, he was in charge of Ginger & Fred video Bar’s programming at La Maison de la Danse in Lyon. He discovered the choreographic field and the importance of this medium in the dissemination, mediation and pedagogical approach to dance alongside Charles Picq, who was a brilliant video director and the director of the video department at that time.
Today, Fabien Plasson is the video director at La Maison de la Danse and in charge of the video section of Numeridanse.tv, an online international video library, and continues his creative activities, making videos of concerts, performances and also creating video sets for live performances.
Sources: Maison de la Danse ; Fabien Plasson website
More information: fabione.fr
Sbulele Gcilitshana (voix du texte enregistré)
James Ngcobo (Direction) / Xolisile Bongwana, Tobela Mpela, Sizwe Nhlapo, Siphiwe Nkabinde (chant) / Giuliano Modarelli (Accompagnement guitare, composition)
Complete Quartet (arrangements vocaux)
Ralf Nonn, Alban Rouge
Shanell Winlock (Direction des répétitions)
Production / Coproduction of the choreographic work
Coproduction Théâtre de la Ville - Paris, Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg (Belgique), Dance Umbrella (Afrique du Sud), Vuyani Dance Theatre. Vuyani Dance Theatre reçoit le soutien de la National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. Tournée organisée par le Théâtre de la Ville. Avec le soutien de l’Onda - Office national de diffusion artistique Avec le soutien de la Région Rhône-Alpes dans le cadre de l’APSV.
Production / Coproduction of the video work
Maison de la Danse, 2015