Chit chat: Gregory Maqoma

2010-06-21 11:45

As gracious as he is graceful, choreographer and performer Gregory Maqoma, who did the choreography for the World Cup Kick-Off Concert, took some time out to talk to 7 about his career in his studio in Newtown, Joburg. He also shared his thoughts about the future of dance and nurturing the discipline in South Africa.

I am ... not a fan of soccer, but my father owned a football club and he wanted me to be a soccer player. I hated being put in that position. He passed on two years ago, so me performing at Orlando Stadium in Soweto – where I am from – somehow ­fulfils his wish for me.

Being a recognisable dancer ...comes with responsibility. I am a role model. I have to continue to be an inspiration to younger dancers. I have to be an inspiration to other artists and audiences too. I am also under pressure to produce ­something new that sustains that success.

The creative process ... starts with my dreams. I allow an idea to flow – sometimes for years – until it is ready. I know I’m not a machine that has to manufacture works constantly. The works evolve as we perform them.

Doing the choreography for the Kick-Off Concert
... opened up a new world to me. I had a lot of leeway to set it the way I wanted. The decision to have me was because they wanted something unique.

Among the dancers
... were three from the Eastern Cape who won the Stepping Stones programme at this year’s FNB Dance ­Umbrella. But after the Guild Theatre in East London closed down they had nowhere to go. They arrived in Joburg with their suitcases. Luckily we were able to help them and they are continuing their training, on the understanding that they will ­return to the Eastern Cape to find and nurture other talent. New talent cannot be wasted.

Since FNB has withdrawn its financial support of the Dance Umbrella
... we feel threatened as the dance community. It’s the only open platform for dance; the only dedicated place for dance development. What will happen to the new wave of ­choreographers? I was discovered there in 1994.

The Dance Umbrella ... has ­developed a big following of ­international producers. That’s how we sustain our art. Recently I was in Paris and there were three South African dancers – Boyzie Cekwana, Robyn Orlin and myself – headlining at three different ­theatres. We were not part of any festival.

South Africa
... is lagging ­behind in appreciating our own talent. Dance in this country doesn’t have a flagship body. It is a problem that comes from government. We need a place that has to show dance.

My next work ... will premiere in Holland. It is not done yet, but it is booked there. It is a piece I’m working on with Madala Khumalo and Syd Kitchen.

Last thought
... South Africa is at its best with dance if well supported. We are the best.

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