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Young Artists embrace the realm of the ancestors

Published on 24 June 2019

“Space has continuous conversations with those who pass through it – that same space has memory – that space carries our heritage. The theatre is a space for confession. Listen to the echo, the ancestors are speaking.”

In a first in the history of the Standard Bank Young Artist Awards, Young Artist of the Year for Dance Kitty Phetla joins forces with previous Young Artist for Jazz Nduduzo Makhathini (2015) in a brand-new production, GOING BACK TO THE TRUTH OF SPACE. This will premiere at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) on the opening weekend (27, 28 and 29 July). Read more about the production below the gallery.


Together these world-renowned artists offer a tribute to ‘the divine lineage of souls’ whom occupy, inform and influence the spaces of these artists and their work. GOING BACK TO THE TRUTH OF SPACE reveals a journal of religion, a practice of ritual and a struggle for restoration between Kitty Phetla and Nduduzo Makhathini as both artist and healer. This unique production is a reflection on and evocation of African modes performance and ritual – calling forth the memories and wisdom of ancestry and visualising a future of healing through the adoration of space.

Showcasing Makhathini’s glowing composition and Phetla’s vivid choreography interweaved on stage, the premiere of GOING BACK TO THE TRUTH OF SPACE launches the National Arts Festival on opening night 27 June 2019 in the Great Hall for five performances from 27 to 29 June, with a surprise twist for the final show.

Embracing the realm of the ancestors as an evolving space, this stirring depiction draws together the existence between dream state and reality. Kitty and Nduduzo transcend the ideas of home as a geographic space and connect with the ancestors using dance and music as a portal to the divine.

Enveloped in the ritual institution of ngoma, once the term for drumming, music, singing, dancing, and the complex ceremonies of healing, Kitty and Nduduzo dissect and expand the physical space of the theatre with a parallel invitation to sojourn into the underworld.

The production engages in modes of communication through moments of improvisation as the artists reflect the responses of the spirit world and the guidance of their ancestors. These tender moments of movement melt through the music to serenade the audience into a space of insight and awakening.

The final performance on Saturday 29 June at 16:00 will present audiences with a sudden, colourful twist in the run of the production. Blending bright Afrofuturism animations and illustrations with delicate poetry, the performance introduces additional layers to the sights and sounds of Phetla and Makhatini.

Acclaimed artist Sean Crozier has designed a response to the composition and choreography with his rich and distinct visual creations to communicate a philosophy of science, heritage, culture and history that reimagines the past and envisions our future. This final performance will include a live performance by Kitty Phetla and a sound recording of Nduduzo Makhathini.

Photography by Lauge Sorensen with added graphic illustrations by Sean Crozier.

This content was supplied by the artists.