“With “Beautiful Me”, Gregory Maqoma goes on an unusual solo adventure, a vehicle for conflicting gestures and words and a paradoxical identity. Co-created by three choreographers, Vincent Mantsoe of South Africa, Faustin Linyekula of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Akram Khan, kathak (Indian traditional dance) expert, this performance masters all the choreographic registers – from the refined Orient to hip-wiggling Africa. Accompanied by four musicians (violinist, cellist, percussionist, Indian zither player), this piece is the third part of a trilogy, “Beautiful”, launched in October 2005 at the CND.
What is special about this solo?
Gregory Maqoma: “Beautiful Me” deals with the notion of humanity, of “leadership” and of the struggle for power in Africa and beyond. The solo also concentrates on the relationship which I developed with the three co-creators of the piece. The roots are as much African as Indian (the Indian community is very important in South Africa). The piece is also rooted in each our beliefs.
How did everyone contribute to the piece?
G. M.: At the beginning, I had asked the choreographers to give me two minutes of their material, whether it was text or movement. But this idea proved to be insufficient because the idea was to thoroughly understand their ways of working, their choices, and commitments and to integrate their aesthetic principles.
What kind of relationship do all four of you have?
G. M.: Our relationship is deep and goes well beyond our artistic work. I grew up with Vincent Mantsoe in the Soweto township. We started to dance together in the 80s. Both of us were heavily influenced by Michael Jackson. We trained at the same time and went in different directions but never lost contact.
I met Faustin Linyekula during a tour with Mantsoe in Africa in 1996. We immediately wanted to work together. Our collaboration resulted in Tales of the Mud Wall in 2000 in Vienna.
As for Akram Khan, we met for the first time in London. Every time we met, we would talk about movement. I've also seen his work and I was able to be part of his project on Steve Reich.
All three are artists of my generation and we developed an intense relationship, which can be seen in this solo.
Which part of this solo which is most about you?
G. M.: At the beginning of the piece, it's the moment when I speak with my father. I then evoke my desire to fly and the beauty of the bird which lives in me. Right at the end, I remember my childhood and the challenge that it represented to pronounce my first name, a colonial first name. I also think of the sequence during which I talk with African leaders, dead and alive. It brings into play our relations as dancers and choreographers with the Western superpowers."
Remarks collected by Rosita Boisseau in Lettre de Kinem # 10 January - July 2008
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.
Further information https://vuyani.co.za/
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.).
Choreography : Gregory MAQOMA avec la collaboration d'Akram KHAN, Faustin LINYEKULA, Vincent MANTSOE
Interpretation : Gregory MAQOMA
Stage direction : Gerard BESTER
Text : Wole SOYINKA
Original music : Poorvi BHANA, Bongani KUNENE, Given MPHAGO, Isaac MOLELEKOA
Lights : Michael MANNION
Costumes : Sun GODDESS
The committed artist
In all the arts and here especially in dance, the artist sometimes creates to defend a cause, to denounce a fact, to disturb, to shock. Here is a panorama of some "committed" choreographic creations.
La part des femmes, une traversée numérique
Qudus Onikeku - Reclaim a forgotten memory
CHRISTIAN & FRANÇOIS BEN AÏM – VITAL MOMENTUM
Discover Indian dance through choreographic creations which unveil it, evoke it, revisit it or transform it!
DANCE AND DIGITAL ARTS
Why do I dance ?
Panorama of different artistic collaborations, from « couples » of choreographers to creations involving musicians or plasticians
Meeting with literature
Collaboration between a choreographer and a writer can lead to the emergence of a large number of combinations. If sometimes the choreographer creates his dance around the work of an author, the writer can also choose dance as the subject of his text.
Dance and performance
Here is a sample of extracts illustrating burlesque figures in Performances.
Presentation of the Round’s figure in choreography.
The Dance Biennale
Female / male
A walk between different conceptions and receptions of genres in different styles and eras of dance.
Dance and visual arts
Dance and visual arts have often been inspiring for each other and have influenced each other. This Parcours can not address all the forms of their relations; he only tries to show the importance of plastic creation in some choreographies.
Hip hop / Influences
This Course introduce to what seems to be Hip Hop’s roots.
Arts of motion
Generally associated with circus arts, here is a Journey that will take you on a stroll through different artists from this world.
This Parcours questions the idea that contemporary dance has multiples techniques. Different shows car reveal or give an idea about the different modes of contemporary dancer’s formations.