Our top five picks for Dance Umbrella 2015

2015-02-22 13:13

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EXPLORING PERSONAL IDENTITY: Mamela Nyamza will be showing Wena Mamela at Dance Umbrella
PHOTO: zanele muholi


In this biographical work, choreographer and performer Mamela Nyamza explores her personal identity in the context of her art and heritage. In a captivating solo performance, she traces her history not only as a dancer, but more broadly as a black woman living in South Africa. She is accompanied by a life-size costume character, adding to the eccentricity of this intricate piece.

Dance Factory, Tuesday, March 3, and Wednesday, March 4, at 8.15pm

MAN ON FIRE: Thulani Mgidi is part of On Fire: The Invention of Tradition. PHOTO: manuel osterhol


This contemporary dance piece by Constanza Macras examines the position of heritage in a post-apartheid age. Considering our segregated past, it explores how people see themselves in an age of multiculturalism and national identity. The piece brings together Johannesburg- and Berlin-based performers, and includes an element of visual art with the incredible photography of Ayana V Jackson.

Dance Factory, Thursday, February 26, and Friday, February 27, at 7pm

COMPLEX: Nora Chipaumire’s piece celebrates masculinity (male presence and representation), the black African body and performance, and interrogates the ‘Zimbabwean self’. PHOTO: romeo chandiposo


New York-based Zimbabwean choreographer Nora Chipaumire joins the Dance Umbrella programme this year with a new work celebrating the African male self. In interrogating Zimbabwean identity and the black male body, Chipaumire brings together months of research in her rich and complex new piece. Chipaumire won a 2014 New York Dance and Performance Award (known as a Bessie) for a reimagined performance of Dark Swan. She has collaborated with the Tumbuka Dance Company for this new and explosive offering.

Moad Gallery, Saturday, March 7, at 8pm and Sunday, March 8, at 7pm

UNDERWORLD: Tossie van Tonder’s work deals with the uncovered SA
experience. PHOTO: Guy de Lancey


Chthonia, from the Greek word for subterranean, is dance veteran Tossie van Tonder’s offering. As the name suggests, the piece deals with the state of the uncovered South African experience, in a performance described as “throbbing, widespread and infectious”. With 32 years of dancing under her belt, Van Tonder’s performance is set to be elegant and refined.

John Kani Theatre, Thursday, March?12, and Friday, March 13, at 8pm

EROTIC: Nelisiwe Xaba explores African sensuality in Germany's black forest. PHOTO: John Hogg


This piece, which means Foreign Dances, tackles the idea of representation in dance. Choreographer Nelisiwe Xaba spent time in Germany and studied the exoticism of modern dance from the early 1900s. Xaba challenges these ideas in a performance of her own, making the Black Forest in Germany the subject of fascination in her piece.

Dance Factory, Saturday, March?14, at 8.15pm and Sunday, March 15, at 2.30pm

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