Performing Arts Houston presents Gregory Maqoma's Vuyani Dance Theatre
In this piece the message of death and its dire consequences are infused through a lament to be able to confront a universe in which the age-old tropes of greed, power and religion have given rise to loss of life not as a natural phenomenon. Toloki, the professional mourner weaves through this virtual landscape of dissolution giving rise to a catharsis of universal grief that will conquer the sadness, the hard reality continuing to permeate the living confronted by death that is not their own, often so unexpected, brutal and merciless.
Cion as in Zion, the African church is set in a graveyard, a church where the body is religion and the voices are personal. Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Boléro, draws inspiration from creations by two artists: the character Toloki in South African author Zakes Mda’s novels Cion and Ways of Dying and music from French composer Maurice Ravel’s Boléro. It’s a universal story encompassing the past and the present that champions our ability to band together to share the burden of grief.
Set in a graveyard with the persistent cries of people in mourning and the acappella music of Isicathamiya in our languages sang by a quartet to the creative arrangement and composition by Nhlanhla Mahlangu that vividly elicits emotions associated with the loss of life performed by nine dancers who are themselves possessed by the spirit and being one with the departed souls and finally lying them to rest for peace and humanity to prevail. Maqoma’s message through this work is that we need to pause for a moment and urgently think about the pain inflicted on others by the actions of others.