Video: South African dancer and choreographer Gregory Maqoma spends a week in residence

“As a black African dancer, I am constantly expected to conform to stereotypical perceptions of the Western world and of African traditionalists. Africa is widely perceived on the one hand as a war zone ravaged by the Aids pandemic and poverty and on the other hand as exotic, colourful and primitive. I propose to deconstruct this stereotype through my personal history, my work as a performer and choreographer living in a city and my research on urban popular contemporary intercultural dance forms.” Gregory Maqoma

In its first-ever concert held during the academic year, the internationally acclaimed Bates Dance Festival collaborated with the Bates College Concerts Committee to present Beautiful Me by the renowned South African company Vuyani Dance Theatre on Oct. 16 in Bates College’s Schaeffer Theatre. The performance kicked off the troupe’s North American tour.

A global fusion of rousing live music sets the pace for this solo tour de force by the exquisite dancer and choreographer Gregory Maqoma, a rising star on South Africa’s dance and theater scene. Beautiful Me speaks honestly about the profound task of finding one’s authentic voice and redefining our notion of postmodern African choreography.

During his week in residence at Bates, Maqoma and his company members — Isaac Katlego Molelekoa; violin; Mandla Madienkosi Nhlapo, percussion; Bongani Kunene, cello; and Poorvi Bhana, sitar — offered a noonday concert, gave master dance workshops, spoke to music and anthropology classses and with members of Amandla!, and met with faculty members whose teaching focuses on Africa.

For a glimpse of his experience at Bates, watch the following short video.

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