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Mamela Nyamza Double Bill Comes to the Baxter Theatre This October

Mamela Nyamza Double Bill Comes to the Baxter Theatre This October
Indalo Bennet (foreground) and Buhlebezwe
Siwani (background) in ROCK TO THE CORE
Photo credit: Oscar O'Ryan

Choreographer, dance artist and activist, Mamela Nyamza, brings two of her acclaimed and confrontational works, ROCK TO THE CORE and DE-APART-HATE, to the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio for a short season this October.

Known for her direct and confrontational artistic works about interaction and introspections of who we are, this latest double bill showcases the 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist winner's unique approach to dance and performance that is driven by her constant endeavours to challenge herself and the world in which she lives.

In ROCK TO THE CORE, Nyamza interrogates socio-economic disability and delivers a punch as with a piece that aims to shock, shake and shove all there is to challenge the status quo of the arts in South Africa. In the same way that rock music changed the culture of and, indeed, shocked the world, this work ultimately wants to rock the art fraternity to the core by demanding change and transformation within the arts and its mainstream exclusive theatres. The work came about through a protest that Nyamza led earlier this year at the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards ceremony held at the Artscape Theatre. The protest was for the under-representation of black artists, and in particular, black women, in the arts. Nyamza comments:

Black women artists are fed up with the notion that they must protest for people's pedestal and approval. It must be emphasised that the protest had nothing to do with us wanting to get awards for ourselves, but rather, had everything to do with equal acknowledgement and access to mainstream theatres, and recognition of all black artists, whether as a performer or director.

Mamela Nyamza Double Bill Comes to the Baxter Theatre This October
Aphiwe Livi and Mamela Nyamza
Photo credit: VAL ADAMS

ROCK TO THE CORE, featuring the multi-award-winning Chuma Sopotela, Zikhona Zee Jacobs, Indalo Bennet and Buhlebezwe Siwani, recently had its world premiere at the Cape Town Fringe Festival.

Nyamza herself returns to the stage to perform DE-APART-HATE with Aphiwe Livi. The two-hander is a layered piece that reflects complexities of current issues in society and the world. It is not overtly about apartheid, nor is it overtly about race, but confronts the oppressive, prejudiced and intolerant forces that exist in the world and uses religion to symbolise all the pervasiveness of oppressive and divisive forces that infiltrate all society. It is about unsteadiness, anxiety and edginess. It is about shifting, shuffling, re-adjusting discomforts as well as personal and collective battles against intolerant systems. The work goes to the heart of embodying defiance, desperation, dismantling and detonation of all institutional myths and fallacies that keep people apart.

In 2014, Nyamza received the Glamour Award for Best Creator owing to her refreshingly innovative choreography and performance in the art of dance. No stranger to rejection and "the other", she was formally trained in classical ballet, but because of her athletic body she never quite fit in. She explains:

I was consistently ridiculed by my childhood peers for my physically athletic frame and the ultimate rebuke and rejection came from my classical ballet teachers. So, I was inevitably drawn to the politics of the body.

Nyamza tackles the status quo of classical dance by unapologetically demystifying and deconstructing both the traditional methods and logic of ballet. She continues to develop her own artistic practice and performance, by choreographing work-pieces that deal with important political and societal issues of today's South Africa, such as homophobia in I STAND CORRECTED and discrimination in WENA MAMELA.

Having just concluded performances of DE-APART-HATE at the Afrovibes Festival in Amsterdam, a festival promoting both young pioneers and established talent in theatre, dance, music, poetry and design from Africa in The Netherlands, Nyamza will go on to present ROCK TO THE CORE and DE-APART-HATE at the Spielart festival in Germany after the run at the Baxter.

Both works in the season - which carry an age restriction for children under 14 - will each only run for four performances. ROCK TO THE CORE opens on 17 October and runs until 21 October at 19:30 nightly, with a Saturday matinee at 15:00 on 21 October. DE-APART-HATE opens on 24 October and runs until 28 October at 19:30 nightly, with a Saturday matinee at 15:00 on 28 October. Tickets cost R100. There is a student and seniors' special of R60 on presentation of relevant valid identification.

Bookings are online through Computicket, by phone on 0861 915 8000, or in person at any Shoprite or Checkers outlet. For corporate, block or school bookings, charities and fundraisers, contact Sharon Ward on 021 680 3962 or Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993.

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