Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Gregory Maqoma/Vuyani Dance Theatre Returns to REDCAT with 'Exit/Exist'


In Exit/Exist, renowned South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma reinvigorates African oral and musical tradition with contemporary movement to explore his family's ancestral heritage as a way of understanding the complexities of our contemporary world. Now touring the U.S., Exit/Exist will have its West Coast premiere at REDCAT, Calarts' downtown center for contemporary arts Thursday, November 7 to Sunday, November 10.

Gregory Maqoma's transformational and poignant solo dance fuses storytelling with his signature unparalleled integration of contemporary and traditional dance styles, accompanied by the live singing of the South African acapella ensemble Complete and world-fusion guitarist Giuliano Modarelli, performing a lush score by the acclaimed singer and composer Simphiwe Dana.

Maqoma's performance embodies a forgotten history where the musicians become supporting characters in the narrative interwoven into his vibrantly kinetic world, creating rich visual scenes that punctuate his abstract exploration of race and political power, cultural tradition and personal legacy.

Exit/Exist rewinds the tape to the days when the tapestry of South Africa was about the collision of biographies. -ArtSpoken News

As inspiration for this piece, Gregory Maqoma looks to his ancestral past when 19th-century warrior Chief Maqoma fought the British to maintain the Xhosa cultural traditions of the Eastern Cape in the face of colonial dispossession. 2013 marks the centenary of South Africa's infamous Native Land Act (1913), a foundational piece of legislation that legalized colonial dispossession during segregation and apartheid. Maqoma invites audiences to reflect on who we are, where we come from, and how all of these facets inform our personal and collective identities today.

Gregory Maqoma/ Vayani Dance Theatre

Gregory Vuyani Maqoma, internationally renowned dancer, choreographer, director and scriptwriter, started his dance training in 1990. While studying under Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker at Performing Arts Research and Training School (PARTS) in Belgium in 1999, Maqoma founded Vuyani Dance Theatre (VDT), a company that fuses African contemporary urban styles, music and culture with those of contemporary European counterparts. VDT creates work that questions and challenges social values with history as a launchpad for material. Their approach embraces-in a dynamic and theatrical way-the many tastes, motivations, and cultures that shape the uniqueness of South African society.

In addition to his own choreography, Maqoma has taught and created repertoire for Moving into Dance, Jazzart Company, South African Ballet Theatre and Cape Performing Arts, among others. Maqoma's work has been shown in Africa, Europe, USA and South America. He collaborated with the British-based choreographer Akram Khan for the London Symphonietta to the music of Steve Reich. He also created Neon Flight for South African Ballet Theatre, premiered in Moscow in 2006. In 2009, Maqoma was selected as the head choreographer for the Fourth World Summit of Arts & Culture, held in South Africa, and presented 3 Colours with Brett Bailey. He was also head choreographer for the FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Concert in Soweto, his birthplace, in June 2010. He was choreographer for Hugh Masekela's Songs of Migration and, in 2011, toured extensively with Southern Bound Comfort, a double bill choreographed by Maqoma and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

Formed by brothers Happy and Bongikosi Motha in 2001, and later joined by Linda Thobela and Bubele Mgele, who sang together at the South African church where they were formed, Complete is a vocal indulgence of harmonic voices. Complete has a vision to touch and change the hearts of music lovers worldwide through singing gospel, RnB and Scathamiya, a popular South African genre. Complete's music is spiritual, mature and extravagant and crosses cultural, racial and class barriers. They have toured internationally and won several gospel awards. They have also worked with the legendary Hugh Masekela on 100 years of South African Music, and on Songs of Migration, featuring Sibongile Khumalo. Complete was featured on Hip-Hop group Deep Level's song "Thula mama" and recorded a hit song-"I'm complete"-on house group Revolution's album tribal journey. The group recently toured Germany and is currently working on a new album.

James Ngcobo (Director) has collaborated with Gregory Maqoma on 12 productions. He has appeared at London's Young Vic in The Revolution, toured the United States in The Horn of Sorrow, toured Britain in The Cherry Orchard, performed in Sizwe Banzi is Dead at Britain's Festival Hall, and was awarded the 2007 Best Director for The Suitcase at the Naledi Awards.

Upcoming at REDCAT

Nov 11: Eline Jongsma and Kel O'Neill: "Live Screening" of Empire: The Unintended Consequences of Dutch Colonialism
Nov 21-24: Faifai: Anton, Neko, Kuri

Related Articles View More Dance Stories

Buy at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More

More Hot Stories For You