American-Swiss choreographer Jeremy Nedd and Impilo Mapantsula will tour their two collaborative dance works “The Ecstatic” and “How a falling star lit up the purple sky” at three festivals in southern Africa: The National Arts Festival in Makhanda, South Africa, Maitisong in Gabarone, Botswana and Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Kigali, Rwanda.
Pantsula is a historically significant South African subculture. Expressed not only as a powerful dance form which is well known for its high-speed virtuosic footwork, but also evident through a dress code, language, music, and a particular philosophy of life that is all its own. An expression that during Apartheid gave a voice to a whole generation. Praise Break, a mode of praise. A moment… a pause… a break in the context of the Christian Pentecostal Church service, where the dancing body, voice and music energetically coalesce and as a result blur the difference between ecstatic and cathartic. What happens when the aesthetics of these two worlds converge? What happens in this transcendental moment of “break”. Within the dance piece “The Ecstatic” six Pantsula dancers turn to the motions that lead up to the praise break in order to find out, and “break open” a new space all their own.
The Western film trope serves as the speculative starting point for the new work “How a falling star lit up the purple sky”, included in the main programme of the National Arts Festival in Makhanda. This project follows after their successful production “The Ecstatic”, initiated during Jeremy’s residency in South Africa in 2017. Through the prism of pantsula’s rich culture they explore new stories and myths in response to the stereotypical themes and tropes propagated by the Western cinematic genre around the hero, the other and the vast, empty landscape which they both contentiously inhabit.
“How a falling star lit up the purple sky” is a dynamic visual poem that proposes a paradigm shift, re-thinks the idea of the archetype and invites a re-assessment of the imagined and geographical spaces occupied by the western, the (Wild) West, and the South.
The performance is conceptualised and directed by Jeremy Nedd and features Sicelo Xaba, Vusi Mdoyi, Sello Modiga, Thomas Motsapi, Sonakele Masethi, Kgotsofalang Moshe, Vuyani Feni, Sibongile Mathebula, Elma Motloenya.
Jeremy Nedd is a Brooklyn (New York) born choreographer and performer who has been living in Basel for some time. Jeremy has had engagements at the Semperoper in Dresden (2010-2012) and Ballett Basel (2012-2016). As a guest performer he is associated with Schauspielhaus Zürich, where he has worked with Trajal Harrell, amongst others. Jeremy has realised and presented his previous productions at Kaserne Basel, ROXY Birsfelden, Tanzhaus Zürich, Arsenic (Lausanne), Palais de Tokyo (Paris) and Münchner Kammerspiele. In 2017, Jeremy was a Premio finalist (Newcomer Award for Theatre and Dance Switzerland) and a recipient of the Atelier Mondial residency in South Africa. Most recently, he completed a Master’s degree in Expanded Theatre at the Bern University of the Arts (HKB).
Impilo Mapantsula is a global network of high-level professional dance artists who specialise in pantsula, a South African urban dance form. They are a professional organisation that promotes the development of pantsula dance and culture, creates formal standards, and acts as an industry representative. The organisation aims to document and protect the living legacy of pantsula and support dancers in professionalising and further developing their art. Impilo Mapantsula creates learning opportunities and supports artistic creation and self-expression through educational, artistic and professional programmes, with an emphasis on job creation, international collaborations and exchange programmes.