Dance / Rhodes Theatre

In Exit/Exist, South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma reinvigorates tradition to understand the complexities of our contemporary world.
As inspiration for this piece, Maqoma looks to his ancestral past: Chief Maqoma, a 19th century warrior who fought to maintain Xhosa cultural traditions of the Eastern Cape in the face of colonial dispossession. Maqoma embodies this forgotten history in a transformational and poignant solo performance that fuses storytelling with his own unparalleled contemporary dance vocabulary and spirited live music. Through his signature integration of traditional and contemporary dance, Maqoma invites audiences to reflect on who we are, where we come from, and how all of these facets, past and present, inform our personal and collective identities today.
Maqoma is joined on stage by four exceptional singers (South African ensemble Complete, whose performance credentials include touring with Hugh Masekela) and world-fusion guitarist Giuliano Modarelli, performing a lush score by Simphiwe Dana, the acclaimed singer and composer from Maqoma’s native province of the Eastern Cape. As supporting characters in the narrative, the entire cast is interwoven into Maqoma’s vibrantly kinetic world, creating rich visual scenes which punctuate his abstract exploration of race and political power, cultural tradition and personal legacy.


Creative Team
Concept, Choreographer & Performance: Gregory Maqoma
Music Composition: Simphiwe Dana
Director: James Ngcobo
Video Animation: Mileta Postic
Guitar Composition, Arrangements & Performance: Giuliano Modarelli
Vocal Arrangements & Additional Composition: Complete Quartet
Rehearsal Director: Shanell Winlock
Recorded Text Voice: Sibulele Gcilitshana
Sound Design & Recording: Andile Mpahlwa
Costume: David Tlale
Set & Lighting Design: Oliver Hauser
Sound Engineer: Ntuthuko Mbuyazi
Musical Director: Happy Motha

Production Management
Project Manager: Siyandiswa Dokoda
Publicity: Ntombi Mashaba
Stage Manager: Ali Madiga

Tobela Mpela
Sizwe Nhlapo
Lubabalo Velebayi
Sipho Mhlanga


Born in Soweto, October 16 of 1973, Gregory Vuyani Maqoma became interested in dance in the late 1980’s as a means to escape the political tensions growing in his place of birth. He started his formal dance training in 1990 at Moving Into Dance where in 2002 he became the Associate Artistic Director. Maqoma has established himself as an internationally renowned dancer, choreographer, teacher, director and scriptwriter. He founded Vuyani Dance Theatre (VDT) in 1999 when he was undertaking a scholarship at the Performing Arts Research and Training School (PARTS) in Belgium under the direction of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.
Maqoma is respected for his collaborations with artists of his generation. In 2006 he worked with the British-based choreographer Akram Khan and the London Symphonietta to the music of Steve Reich Variations for vibes, pianos & strings. He also created Neon Flight for the South African Ballet Theatre, which premiered in Russia in June 2006.
He began his ongoing collaboration with theatre director James Ngcobo in 2008 with The Lion and the Jewel’ and Zakes Mda’s The Hill. In 2009 Maqoma collaborated with Ngcobo on Crazy for Jazz and Thirst. His collaboration with James Ngcobo continued on the adaptation of Athol Fugard’s Master Harold and the Boys produced by Theatre on the Square.

In 2009 for the opening ceremony of the 4th World Summit of Arts & Culture, in Braamfontein he cocreated 3 Colours with Cape Town theatre maker Brett Bailey; in 2010 he was head choreographer for the FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Concert held in Soweto. That year he choreographed the now internationally acclaimed Hugh Masekela project Songs of Migration produced by the Market Theatre, directed by James Ngcobo. Returning to The Market Theatre in 2011 he collaborated with Ngcobo yet again on their version of Sunjata. In 2011 he won the Dance Manyano Choreographer of A Decade Dance Award. In 2012 Maqoma, with Ngcobo, was part of the creative team behind the ANC Centenary Celebration, Dance and Theatre Musical, Tshihumbudzo’ staged in Bloemfontein.
Maqoma is perhaps best known for producing trilogies. He first created the award winning Rhythm Trilogy (comprising Rhythm 1 2 3, Rhythm Blues and Rhythm Colour) followed by respectively the Beauty Trilogy – Beautiful, Beautiful Me and Beautiful Us. Beautiful (a duet with Shanell Winlock) premiered in South African in a VDT/ Moving into Dance Joint Season that took place at the Dance Factory from June 22 to 25 in 2005. After finalizing his extensive research on Beautiful Me, Maqoma took up residency at the Centre Nationale de la Danse, Pantin, outside Paris to prepare the South African premiere at the 2007 FNB Dance Umbrella. In 2006 and 2007 Maqoma won the Gauteng MEC Award for the group work Beautiful Us and solo Beautiful Me, respectively.

Maqoma’s Skeleton Dry, a work with an original score exploring the liminality of human existence, the space between flesh and bone, was commissioned for the 2009 FNB Dance Umbrella, supported by the National Arts Council. Continuing his exploration of the human condition and our relationship to the earth Maqoma created Four Seasons in 2010 again with original music played live. This work articulated Maqoma’s view on the moral degeneration of the human race and the detrimental effect it has on the world and dynamic Mother Earth. In Exit Exist (2011), collaboration with fashion designer David Tlale, singer composer Simphiwe Dana, male acapella quartet Complete and James Ngcobo, through choreography and ritualistic performance Maqoma explores his historical roots by examining the life and fate of his ancestor Jongum-sobomvu Maqoma, the famous Xhosa chief. Chief Maqoma born in 1798 was arrested while requesting the liberation of Xhosa territories from the English colonists, imprisoned on Robben Island and was buried there in 1873. This master work will make a return tour in the United States in June 2014.
Maqoma was Associate Artistic director of Moving Into Dance Mophatong 2002 – 2007 and for the FNB Dance Umbrella Festival 2010. He was Artistic Director of the Afro-Vibes Festival in the Netherlands and the UK from 2004 – 2010. Since 2011 Maqoma has served on the dance committee of the National Arts Festival. He teaches at various universities in Africa, USA and Europe including, University of California (UCLA), Bates College (USA), Bennington College (USA). He has created repertoire for Moving into Dance, Jazzart Contemporary Dance Theatre, South African Ballet Theatre and Cape Academy of Performing Arts, amongst others.
Several works in his VDT repertoire have won him accolades and international acclaim. This includes FNB Vita Choreographer of the Year in 1999, 2001 and 2002 for Rhythm 1.2.3, Rhythm Blues and Southern Comfort respectively. He received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance in 2002. Maqoma was a finalist in the Daimler Chrysler Choreography Award in 2002 and in the Rolex Mentorship Programme in 2003. He is the recipient of the 2012 Tunkie Award for Leadership in Dance, which is presented annually to a South African who has elevated the standard and visibility of dance in South Africa.

James Ngcobo is stage, television and film actor best known for his roles as editor Joe Dlamini on the South African drama series Hard Copy (2005), and as Mojo Khumalo on the South African sitcom Stokvel, from 2003-2008 and 2010. Ngcobo has appeared at London’s Young Vic in The Revolution, toured the United States in The Horn of Sorrow, toured Britain in The Cherry Orchard, and performed in Sizwe Banzi is Dead at Britain’s Festival Hall. He trained with Kwa-Zulu Natal’s Loft Theatre Company appearing in such productions as La Ronde, Mujaji, Horn of Sorrow and Jesus Christ Superstar. As a director he has become known for adaptations: Es’kia Mphahlele’s The Suitcase; Fred Khumalo’s autobiography, Touch My Blood; Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel; and Thirst, which saw Pelen Baldini’s The Water Carriers transposed into an African setting. In 2007, Ngcobo won Best Director for The Suitcase at the Naledi Theatre Awards. In 2011, he turned his attention to the myth of the warrior king, Sunjata, who, legend has it, founded the Malian empire in the 13th century — the land of Timbuktu, the spiritual and intellectual capital of Africa.

Simphiwe Dana is one of South Africa’s most soulful singers, renowned around the world and adored for her impressive vocal prowess. As an award-winning singer whose albums have ascended to the top of international charts, and her music captures the hearts of those listening to it. Her third album, Kulture Noir
(2010), has received two METRO FM Music Awards 2010 for Best Female and Best Contemporary Jazz Album, and also claimed the No. 1 spot on the German World Music Charts and the number 3 spot on the European Music Charts.

Originally from Italy, Giuliano Modarelli is stylistically unique guitarist. During his musical training he explored many different genres of music from Western Classical to Trip Hop, Klezmer to Heavy Rock. After studying Jazz at University, he went on study under UK renowned sitarist Dharambir Singh and Indian classical maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta. His style is a subtle blend of World Folk, Arabic, Flamenco, Latin and Eastern European. His breadth of knowledge and soulful improvisation have led to awards and scholarships from the Arts Council England, SAA-UK, Sampad, Milapfest and others, enabling him to work with and learn from some of the world’s most respected Indian Classical musicians such as L. Subramanian, J. Bose and Pt Ajoy Chakraborty. In addition to being a solo artist, Giuliano is also a core member of UK based band Samay, which combines traditional forms with a range of contemporary influences to reinvent the sound of Indian Classical Music, blending Jazz, Flamenco, Samba, Funk and Chill Out to create both powerful and dynamic arrangements.
As part of the international project Sunev featuring Grammy Award winning tabla star Bikram Ghosh (Rhythm Scape), Giuliano collaborated with Bikram to write and perform for the soundtrack of the Mira Nair film, Little Zizou (2008). He is also featured on the soundtrack of the latest Sangeeta Datta Film Life Goes On. Giuliano writes for theatre and dance, touring nationally and internationally with companies such as: Balbir Singh Dance Company, Motion Manual, Diversity Dance, Red Ladder Theatre and Phoenix Dance Theatre. He has also developed various music projects in the UK (such as Klezmer Trip with Bill Laurence, My Journey with Manvir Singh, Nshwa, Raga Nova) and performs regularly in prestigious venues throughout the country (Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Barbican, The Purcell Room, Bridgewater Hall, CBSO, BBC Venue/Radio) as well as at Darbar Festival, Music Port, Bestival, Womex, and Jazz and World Music festivals throughout the UK and abroad. Giuliano regularly works and trains in India where he tours with many outstanding artists such as Bickram Ghosh, Paban Das Baul, Pete Lockett, Purbayann Chatterjee, Sandip Chatterjee. These collaborations have allowed him to explore many different styles of South-Asian music including Bengali Folk, Rajastany Folk, Gazals, Thumri, Kayal, deepening his awareness of world music and continuing his journey into innovative and eclectic excellence.

Mpela is a singer and actor, native to Umtata (South Africa), who first moved to Johannesburg when he was a young boy. He trained for two years at Phakalani Music Industry Institute studying studio production, song writing and vocal training under noted bass guitarist Victor Masondo. In 2002 Mpela was cast as lead singer on the television series Soul City 5. A year later, he joined Umoja as lead singer with whom he travelled to Australia, Denmark, the United States, France, Israel, New Zealand, China, Jamaica and Barbados. In 2007 Mpela joined African Footprints as a singer, touring throughout Mexico. As an actor, Mpela received a best acting award for his appearance in the short film My Husband and Boy Friend. He also appeared in the National Children’s Theatre productions of The Wizard of Oz (2008) and African Tapistry (2010). Mpela continues to act and sing on several television and musical productions on the continent.

Siphiwe “Sip” Nkabinde
Born in Bergville, South Africa, Nkabinde showed artistic abilities from a young age, singing Acapella (Isicathamiya) and in his local school choir as a boy. Studying Pansula and Latin American dance prior to returning to his roots in Zulu Traditional dance, Nkabinde has since grown up to become a passionate artist adept in song-writing, singing, dancing, acting and piano. In 2001, he joined the cast of Umoja and toured the world for almost nine years, until his departure when he decided to focus more on music. In 2009, he joined the Afro-Pop group Fohloza as a backup singer and also began working as a session musician at SLAM Production Studio, recording music for radio and television. In 2011 Nkabinde got a chance to work with Themba Mkhize on musicals Kwela Bafana and iLembe. While acting and performing with several ensembles and theatre companies, Nkabinde continues to focus on his solo career to remain grounded spiritually and mentally.

Xolisile Bongwana
Bongwana’s dance career began in 1999. In 2005 Bongwana joined Uphondo Lwe Africa as a singer and dancer and toured throughout the UK. He joined Dodgy Clutch Production in 2008 and appeared in the UK, US and Spanish tour of Elephant. In 2011 Bongwana performed as a singer and dancer in Robyn Orlin’s Walking Next to Our Shoes, which was presented across the United States, Switzerland and France. He joined Vuyani Dance Theatre as a dancer and singer in 2011.

Timothy Moloi
After completing his studies at Wesleyan University, Moloi returned to South Africa in 1999. He has performed with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, the East Cape Philharmonic, the Electric Pops Orchestra, the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra and the Soweto Gospel Choir. He performed during the FIFA 2010 World Cup opening ceremony and several televised music and acting performances including MTN South African Music Awards, SABC3 JoBurg Pops, Afro Café, Spirit Sundae and Top Billing, to name a few. His 2009 Love That Music album (released by Thatch Music) received two MTN South African Music Awards nominations. Moloi has appeared in several South African stage productions including Motown Gold (Lyric Theatre), Coming Home (Baxter Theatre), Bring on Broadway (Artscape Opera Theatre), and more. Several career highlights include Performances for President Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel, King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. He has also been featured on Africa Peace Awards, Oprah Winfrey’s Live Your Best Life event, the Aardklop National Arts Festival,the RMB Starlight Classics and the FNB Starlight Pop Opera.

  • Venue: Rhodes Theatre
  • City: Makhanda
  • Location: The Main Theatre in the Rhodes Theatre Complex
  • Ticket Price: R85.00
  • Programme Type: CURATED PROGRAMME
  • Genre: Dance
  • Duration: 60 mins
  • Ages: ALL AGES
June 27, 2023   20:00 - 21:00
June 28, 2023   16:00 - 17:00