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BROKEN CHORD Comes to Sadler's Wells Theatre in March

Performances are Friday 17 & Saturday 18 March 2023.

Sadler's Wells presents the UK premiere of Broken Chord by acclaimed choreographer Gregory Maqoma in collaboration with Musical Director Thuthuka Sibisi in March. The production, co-commissioned by Sadler's Wells, tells the story of a South African chorus whose tour through North America and England in the late 19th century was marred by the realities of racism.

Gregory Maqoma is joined on stage by four soloists and the celebrated UK choir Echo Vocal Ensemble for this production, which blends traditional Xhosa and contemporary dance styles. Broken Chord lays bare the burden of the white gaze and what it feels like to move beyond its constraints, speaking to urgent past and present issues concerning borders, migration and identity.

The production charts the journey of a group of singers known as The African Choir who travelled by boat in 1891 to collect donations to build a school. Despite the tensions between South Africa and the colonial power Great Britain, the tour became a success and the choir performed for Queen Victoria. Maqoma and Sibisi give an overdue voice to a significant and often disregarded story in South African and British history.

Gregory Maqoma and Thuthuka Sibisi said:
"Using traditional Xhosa and contemporary dance styles alongside atmospheric soundscapes, we weave together recorded personal accounts of the African Choir, revealing a drama of truly global dimensions, whilst simultaneously looking at the black body as a political site. Further, questioning the relationship between the colonised and the coloniser; and either's complicity in shaping and shifting a South African narrative - past and present. Broken Chord not only reflects on an archive but looks to trigger, critique and comment on urgent issues of migration, dispossession, borders and paths of forced closure."

Sir Alistair Spalding CBE, Artistic Director and CEO of Sadler's Wells, said:
"We're really delighted to be working with Gregory and Thuthuka for the first time here at Sadler's Wells. In Broken Chord, these two brilliant artists shine a spotlight on an extraordinary historical moment that has been often overlooked, through dance and music. The production captures a specific moment in time but speaks to a multitude of pressing contemporary issues. We're pleased that they will be joined onstage by local choir, the Echo Vocal Ensemble, for the London dates."

Broken Chord tours to Canada, ahead of its performances at Sadler's Wells Theatre. The production then travels to Philharmonie de Paris - Cité de la Musique in Paris, with dates in the United States to be announced shortly.

In 2014, after 125 years, photographs of The African Choir taken in July 1981 by the London Stereoscopic Company were discovered at Hulton Archive (a division of Getty Images). In 2022, Getty opened access to the images as part of the Black History and Culture Collection (BHCC) and made them free to use for not-for-profit or educational purposes.

A Sadler's Wells co-commission

BSL-interpreted Post-Show Talk hosted by Rob Jones, Sadler's Wells Associate Artistic Director, on Friday 17 March.

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