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MY TALENT MY BREAD (article first published : 2006-02-27)

It is always exciting to welcome a new choreographer to the dance scene and to watch their energies grow.

Charmaine Mpofu is a young choreographer from Pietermaritzburg. Along with fellow graduates from the Durban Institute of Technology’s Department of Drama Studies, Charmaine has created a group called Kwaanda Mantis. Their aim is to express their talent and experiences in different dance forms such as contemporary, pansula, Shembe and modern dance. Charmaine and the Kwaanda Mantis teach in Kwa Mashu, Umlazi, Folweni and other townships.

Identified by the judges at the FNB Dance Umbrella as a young artist who already has created a body of work with promise, she has been invited to take part in a Young Choreographers Residency programme during FNB Dance Umbrella 2006. Funded by the National Arts Council and the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, this programme aims to give young artists an opportunity to discover new ways of creating.

Her new work My talent my bread (A Widow at the age of 22), had three performances at the Stable Theatre in Durban before Charmaine and the dancers left to appear on the FNB Dance Umbrella. This is a complex and multi-layered piece which sees Nokulunga Khombi Vilakazi giving a poignant performance as a woman who loses her husband. Desperate, she tries to hang herself and it is her little girl (beautifully played by young Noxolo Vilakazi) who reminds her that she still has a role to play in life. As the narrator, a striking Snenhlanhla Mkhize indicates strong dramatic talent as the widow’s conscience. Her conscience’s own moderator – or maybe this is the voice of the ancestors? – is played by Maye Mbhele who caught the audience’s immediate attention from his first appearance. Nicely controlled, this involved not a single word, just merry chortles and then guffaws as he surveyed the audience.

Siya Langa, Sandile “Stantion” Zondo and Phila Mhlongo, from the Umlazi-based Revolution-Pansula – bring their considerable energies and expertise to My talent my bread. Charmane Mpofu herself appears in the cast with the other dancers Vuyiswa King, Siphindile Chelsea Hlongwa and Sandile Mthembu.

There is considerable choreographic expertise in this piece and the hint of much exciting work to come. I would very much like to see My talent my bread reworked and extended, then presented at the Playhouse Company’s Women’s Arts Festival and performed in a theatre with proper lighting and sightlines such as the Playhouse Drama or the Loft.

While the Stable Theatre is improving its conditions gradually – there is new seating and air-conditioning – it is still a difficult venue for dance as the audience in the raked section are fairly far from the stage.

For more information contact Charmaine Mpofu on 083 998 6779 or e-mail: profpisto@yahoo.com – Caroline Smart




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