Vincent Mantsoe, Gregory Maqoma, Kristi-Leigh Gresse set for Kucheza Afrika Festival 2022

Vincent Mantsoe in ’Koma’. Picture: Meinrad Heck

Vincent Mantsoe in ’Koma’. Picture: Meinrad Heck

Published Mar 30, 2022


After two years of digital and hybrid events, Kucheza Afrika Festival returns to the State Theatre with full live performances.

Arguably one of the biggest dance festivals in Mzansi, Kucheza is set to take place at the South African State Theatre from Friday, April 1 to 10 April 10.

This year’s theme aims to “celebrate artists for their resilience in the face of adversity” brought by the pandemic, which saw the arts sector on its knees.

The festival marks 30 years anniversary of dance maestro Vincent Mantsoe’s illustrious dance career by staging two of his works.

Mantso will headline with a premiere of “Koma” in a double bill with his longtime industry friend David April, who will salute him with a reimagination of Mantsoe’s acclaimed “Barena” April Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3.

The iconic dancer and choreographer will also offer a masterclass on his famous techniques on Thursday, March, 31, the eve of the festival’s opening.

The 2021 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner Kristi-Leigh Gresse has been commissioned by the festival. Gresse is recreating “Encryption”, which will premiere on April 8.

The new body of work “reflects on what makes us, what informs our personalities, our politics, and our socio-cohesive behaviour. Told through movement, images, and song the production is a yearning for understanding self.”

Gregory Maqoma. Picture: Supplied

Gregory Maqoma’s “Ketima” and Luyanda Sidiya’s “Umnikelo” will pair in a double bill that will launch the festival on April 1.

Sidiya is bringing his entire trilogy, comprising “Siva” and “Awawethu” which will close the festival on April 10.

Bailey Snyman’s critically acclaimed “Gasland” will stage on April 8 and 9.

The programme also features Thami Tshabalala with “Isinyuso” on April 8 and 9, and international act Helge Letonje exhibiting “Digging In The Night” on April 7 and 8.

“The Kucheza Afrika Festival 2022 offering boasts some of the top choreographers and dancers that our country has produced – it promises the best and I cannot wait to experience this with both our patrons and dance community,” said the State Theatre’s artistic director. Aubrey Sekhabi.

A new category called Open Programme has been added to the festival, with the aim of inviting professional and young artists that are looking for a platform to create and/or present work.

Under this category, Sbonelo Mchunu will explore a life of a loner who is subjected to confusion, self-destruction, and self-loss with “Internal” April 2 and 3.

Phumlani Ndebele’s “Thirst” an exploration of the reaches of physicality and the capacity of the human form, will show on April 8 and 7.

Kucheza’s Young Artists Programme, a bespoke platform for young choreographers, will feature two young women. The first, Julia Burnham, is showcasing “Knots & Codes” on April 5 and 6. Burnham’s work investigates the causes of misogyny, femicide and the domestic violence that has so rampantly escalated in recent years.

The second, Teresa Phuti Mojela, will present “Ngwedi” a tribute to the late dancer legend Themba Mbuli, on April 9 and 10.

’Ngwedi’. Picture: Danie Coetzee

Another work by a young artist is “Kontroller” by Muzi Shili. The piece challenges the status of political control.

In it, power and time are intertwined and take audiences on a controlled gestural movement of hip hop and pantsula to the contemporary fusion of cultures. “Kontroller” will show on April 3 and 4.

Tickets are available at Webtickets from R80 to R150.

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