Gregory Maqoma


dancing in the late 1980s, as a way of escaping the growing political tensions of his birth-place. He started his formal dance training in 1990, with Moving into Dance Mophatong, and in 1994 won the FNM Vita Pick of the Fringe prize for his first choreographic creation for this company. In 1999 he was awarded a scholarship for further studies at P.A.R.T.S. with Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. In the same year he also founded his own dance company, the Vuyani Dance Theatre. His career really took off after this and many prizes and awards followed, including in 1999, 2001 and 2002 the FNB Vita Choreographer of the Year award, and in 2006 and 2007 the Gauteng MEC Award for Beautiful Us and Beautiful Me. In 2012 he received the Tunkie Award for Leadership in Dance and in 2014 the New York City Bessie Award for Dance. In 2017 he was the recipient of the prestigious French title of Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Maqoma enjoys collaborating with other artists, and has frequently done so, for example with Akram Khan and the London Sinfonietta, singer-songwriter Simphiwe Dana, and the theatrical creator Brett Bailey. Maqoma was an associate artistic director of Moving Into Dance Mophatong and the Dance Umbrella festival, and from 2004 to 2010 was responsible for the Dutch Afrovibes festival. Gregory Maqoma is performing at the Holland Festival 2019 in his own choreographic pieces Beautiful Me, Requiem Request and Cion: A Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero. He is also the choreographer of this year’s opening show, The Head & The Load. Vuyani Dance Theatre was founded by Gregory Vuyani Maqoma in 1999 and has become one of Africa’s most successful cutting edge groups. Vuyani Dance Theatre has a dynamic approach that mixes the rhythms of Africa and its urban style, music and culture with their European counterparts. The themes it tackles are important to young people and are conveyed in music and dance styles that match the lives of their performers. But history is crucial too, and is always the starting point for research and development. Vuyani Dance Theatre’s dynamic and theatrical approach embraces the many tastes and cultures that determine South Africa’s unique character and is a clear expression of Johannesburg’s cultural cocktail. The group has performed worldwide in more than 100 cities, from Europe to the United States, Asia and New Zealand. Vuyani Dance Theatre finds it important to collaborate with artists from the whole world because this leads to exceptional mutual enrichment. Since 2004 the company has been working on an extensive development programme. Young people are intensively trained in-house in dance and choreography, thus enabling new talent to move into the company. There is also an extensive outreach programme for primary schools in the township, with twice-weekly lessons from company dancers. This means that talent can be spotted when the children are still young and can be given an early chance for further development.