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Miss Thandi

CN D - Centre national de la danse 2003 - Director : Centre national de la danse, Réalisation

Choreographer(s) : Maqoma, Gregory Vuyani (South Africa)

Present in collection(s): Centre national de la danse , CN D - Spectacles et performances

Video producer : Centre national de la danse

Integral video available at CND de Pantin

en fr

Miss Thandi

CN D - Centre national de la danse 2003 - Director : Centre national de la danse, Réalisation

Choreographer(s) : Maqoma, Gregory Vuyani (South Africa)

Present in collection(s): Centre national de la danse , CN D - Spectacles et performances

Video producer : Centre national de la danse

Integral video available at CND de Pantin

en fr

Miss Thandi

Using images from 1970's, «Miss Thandi» deals with the transitional position of the South African country.

This work is Gregory Maqoma's hommage to Raymond Vuyo Matinyana, aka Miss Thandi, artist, drag queen and activist extraordinaire from the culture and traditions of the Xhosa. Born in 1969 in Port Alfred (South Africa), Raymond Vuyo Matinyana emigrated to the Netherlands in 1992 where he quickly became successful with his imitations of Miriam Makeba and other 'grandes dames' of African song. He died of hepatitis B at the age of 32 in his home in Amsterdam. The plane bringing his body back to South Africa crashed in south-eastern Nigeria in November 2001. It is this pulverized body, which never returned home, that Gregory Vuyani Maqoma invokes and somehow brings back to life when he enters the stage, wearing a tutu and ballet shoes.

Through a minimalist approach to movement and music that draws on the South African repertoire of the 1970s, “Miss Thandi” sensitively evokes the uncertain progression of a country undergoing a radical transition.

This 30 minute solo is danced by Gregory Maqoma, surrounded by three live musicians, and includes a video segment which shows the life of the drag queen artist. This solo is linked with “Rhythm Colour”, a broader and more abstract work with which it contrasts: “[In this work [“Rhythm Colour”], Maqoma searches for colour, texture, shades and form in movement, he investigates the past, allowing an introspection of the fragility of humankind in isolated forms to collide in manifestation of our histories, rhythms become visible and apparent, he explores movement in its metaphoric state, taking it to infinity, continuously searching for answers, he touches on reality which continues to be abstract.] If reality surfaces then it is to honour those who have died, given up their lives in the name of freedom, and to celebrate the life of a drag artist, Miss Thandi, who on the night before his death still went on stage to sing Sarie Marais. [1]

Commissioned by the FNB Vita Dance Umbrella (Johannesburg), “Miss Thandi” was first performed in March 2002.

[1] Vuyani Dance Theatre website, January 2014. http://www.vuyani.co.za/repertoire.html

Press reviews

“The gestures are tight, between repose and movement, balancing and falling. The artist manages the feat of reinterpreting, in a minimalist framework, some jerky, energetic and loose motions specific to South African traditional dances. The man looks himself in a mirror, disturbed by his own face which he does not seem to recognise. Make-up and a wig help him become his real self. Miss Thandi is born from the body of a man, right before our eyes, to celebrate the heritage of Xhosa women (culture of origin of Raymond Vuyo Matinyana and the choreographer himself). It pays homage to a comrade and not to a master. An exercise in admiration disguised as empathy.”

Source: extract of the article by Koss Efoui, "Chorégraphies de la violence", 18/02/2003, published at http://www.jeuneafrique.com/Article/LIN16023chorgecnelo0/
Interview with Gregory Maqoma - Afrik.com in 2003:
http://www.afrik.com/article5577.html

Updating: September 2013 

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.

Centre national de la danse, Réalisation

Since 2001, the National Center for Dance (CND) has been making recordings of its shows and educational programming and has created resources from these filmed performances (interviews, danced conferences, meetings with artists, demonstrations, major lessons, symposia specialized, thematic arrangements, etc.).

Miss Thandi

Choreography : Gregory Maqoma

Interpretation : Gregory Maqoma

Original music : Vuyani Dancers

Video conception : Afrovibes Foundation

Lights : Declan Randall

Costumes : Black Coffee

Settings : Declan Randall

Duration : 36 minutes

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