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COLOUR COMFORT (article first published : 2002-07-4)

An associate director of Moving into Dance Mophatong, Gregory Vuyani Maqoma is this year’s winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance. This honour, announced at last year’s festival, afforded him the opportunity and finances to produce a production at this year’s main festival.

Presented by his Vuyani Dance Theatre and the Vuyani Ensemble his work is titled Colour Comfort, drawn from the two pieces in the programme - Southern Comfort and Rhythm Colour.

As music forms a vital component of Maqoma’s work, he has entered into a highly promising collaboration with Daniel Hutchinson and the result is the Vuyani Ensemble. What a joy it is to see a live 14-piece music ensemble accompanying a dance work.

Southern Comfort is an entertaining and humorous piece which Maqoma performs with the highly talented Constance Kau from MIDM. It’s all about the power games people play. Here Kau holds the position of power, exhorting Maqoma to try other steps and generally bossing him around. A highly effective sequence saw her wearing a long dress and sitting on his shoulders, his legs appearing to be hers. There was also a fun use of bubblepack which produced gentle crackling explosions as the musicians walked on it.

Both pieces are exploratory but Rhythm Colour is the main work of the programme. Beautifully lit and designed by Declan Randall, it investigates the past and pays homage to certain landmarks and personalities – like the image of Hector Peterson being carried during the 1976 school riots and the life of drag artist Miss Thandi.

In wig and tunic, Maqoma portrays a drag artist with much pathos and sensitivity, locked in his/her own lonely world. Mention must also be made of Mafa Makhubalo, Nonkululeko Ntombela and Gaven Taele.

Overall, the imagery is impressive but for me the choreographic themes were over-explored. – Caroline Smart




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