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TD Bank to Sponsor DanceWorks' Presentation of Vincent Mantsoe, 1/29/15

Toronto (November 18, 2014) - DanceWorks, Toronto's longest running contemporary dance series, is delighted to announce that TD Bank Group is sponsoring the return of award-winning South African dance artist Vincent Mantsoe, a "magnetic soloist" (The Guardian), last seen in Toronto a decade ago when his 2005 DanceWorks presentation left audiences in awe. An excellent fit with TD's Diversity Mission and embedded diversity community investment approach to global communities, Mantsoe performs his ground-breaking solo works NTU (Nothing) and Skwatta at Harbourfront Centre Theatre from January 29-31, 2015 @ 8pm nightly as part of Harbourfront Centre's NextSteps Series. On a tour with the Canadian premiere of these works, after performing in Montreal at MAI and Toronto, he heads to Peterborough's Public Energy on Feb 3, Ottawa's National Arts Centre Feb. 5-7 and on to Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver Feb 11 - 14.

An incomparable artist, Vincent Mantsoe's unique Afro-fusion language and approach to dance-making have captivated audiences around the world, mixing traditional African dance with contemporary Western street styles and martial arts to create exhilarating performances. He embodies control, intensity, and absolute commitment.

The program is comprised of two riveting solos - NTU and Skwatta - choreographed and performed by Mantsoe, both embodying the limitless spirituality and realities of his South African homeland, brought to life through his forceful, sinewy and tense performance.

Reflecting on the poverty-stricken life in South Africa, NTU deals with nothingness, while Skwatta says there is something happening within that nothingness. Both works are politically and socially charged; Mantsoe finds hope and salvation in the human spirit - often fragile and tortured, but capable of great dignity and pride. NTU (Nothing), an intuitive ritual dance, takes us into nothingness, the place where all is possible. Even if nothingness pervades, there is always something taking form. Creation is not an end in itself, but rather the path to get there.Skwatta is a reflection on the misery afflicting the informal settlements or "squatter" camps in the the townships of South Africa, where Vincent Mantsoe himself grew up. In these settlements, laughing or smiling portrays every corner of hell, from pointless arguments to strange echoes of precious cries.

Of previous performances, critics raved:
"Mantsoe performed a solo of such fierce stamping, writhing intensity that he appeared to enter into a trancelike stateŠ brilliantly fluid and mesmerizingly quick-footed."
- New York Times
"Mantsoe is an artist of fierce uniquenessŠ He combines entertainment, history, and spirituality with an earthshaking expressiveness that audiences find irresistible." - Dance Magazine

Growing up in Soweto, South Africa, Vincent Sekwati Koko Mantsoe learned to dance through youth clubs, street dancing and music videos. He also participated in the traditional rituals involving song and dance that were practiced by the women in his family, who were traditional healers. In 1990, Mantsoe won a scholarship to Sylvia Glasser's Moving Into Dance Company (MID) in Johannesburg. There he began to explore the possibility of merging street dance with traditional dance. From 1997 until 2001, Mantsoe was associate artistic director of MID. Primarily a solo performer, he has also created work for ensembles including Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City and COBA (Collective of Black Artists) in Toronto, Canada. Mantsoe's choreography combines traditional African dance with contemporary, aboriginal, Asian and ballet influences in a cross-cultural Afro-fusion style. He acknowledges the influence of spirituality in his creative work. Describing a process of "borrowing from the ancestors," he notes the importance of understanding and appreciating the sources of his traditional movements. Mantsoe has toured internationally, performing at venues including The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the Dance Umbrella in London, England, and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. He has also won many awards, including top prize at the Vth and VIth Rencontres chorégraphiques de Bagnolet (officially the Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis) in 1996 and 1998. In 1999, he received the Prix du Peuple at the Festival international de nouvelle danse in Montréal.
About TD Bank Group's Diversity Mission "Being The Better Bank is about more than financial results. We care just as much about being a supportive place for our employees to work and a comfortable place for customers to bank. We are committed to being active members of the communities we serve. We believe that TD's commitment to diversity is not only the right thing, it's critical to achieving our mission to be a leading North American bank. Our success depends on reflecting the communities and cultures where we do business. We are determined to be a place where employees and customers alike feel comfortable and supported in all their diversity and where all employees have the opportunity to leverage their talents and achieve their full potential. Our vision is clear: to be The Better Bank. So, too, is our mission: to be the best-run, customer-focused, integrated financial institution, with a unique and inclusive employee culture. We invite you to experience TD soon." - Ed Clark, President & CEO, TD Bank Group

DanceWorks began as a collective of independent dance artists in 1977 and has grown to become Toronto's leading presenter of independent dance. Strong in the belief that dance has the power to illuminate, engage and transform all who participate, DanceWorks offers seasons of eclectic, exhilarating choreography programmed to intrigue, challenge and enthral. DanceWorks adds to the theatrical experience with danceflics, Carol's Dance Notes and post-performance conversations with artists. DanceWorks is the administrator of the CanDance Network and Dance Ontario Association.

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