The 2022 edition of the dance festival Kucheza Afrika Festival, set to take place at the South African State Theatre (SAST) from 01 to 10 April 2022, marks a return to a100% LIVE on-stage performances with audiences in a relaxed Level 1 setting. Following last year’s hybrid (live and online) installment, which occurred under limiting COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s programme is themed to “celebrate artists for their resilience in the face of adversity” brought by the pandemic – which saw the arts sector hit hard, leaving scores of artists unable to fully practice.
The festival will also mark 30 years anniversary of dance maestro Vincent Mantsoe’s illustrious dance career by staging two of his works. He 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 on 02 and 03 April. Mantsoe will also offer a masterclass on his famous techniques on 31 March, the eve of the festival’s opening.
2021 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner Kristi-Leigh Gresse has been commissioned by the festival. She is recreating ENCRYPTION, which will premiere to LIVE audiences on 08 and 09 April. The work ‘reflects on what makes us, what informs our personalities, our politics, and our socio-cohesive behavior. Told through movement, images, and song the production is a yearning for understanding self.’
Gregory Maqoma’s KETIMA and Luyanda Sidiya’s UMNIKELO will pair in double bill that will launch the festival on 01 April. To the mix, Sidiya is bringing his entire trilogy, comprising of also SIVA and AMAWETHU, which is set to close the festival on 10 April. SIVA will show on same dates with Bailey Snyman’s critically acclaimed GASLANDS on 08 and 09 April. This Main Programme of the festival also features Thami Tshabalala with ISINYUSO on 05 and 06 April, and an international act Helge Letonje exhibiting DIGGING IN THE NIGHT on 07 and 08 April.
“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 SAST’s Artistic Director Aubrey Sekhabi.
A new category called Open Programme has been added to the festival, with aim to invite professional and young artists that are looking for a platform to create and/or present work. Under the category, Sbonelo Mchunu will explore a life of a loner who is subjected to confusion, self-destruction, and self-loss with INTERNAL on 02 and 03 April. Phumlani Ndebele’s THIRST, an exploration of the reaches of physicality and the capacity of the human form, will show on 08 and 07 April.
Kucheza’s Young Artists programme, a bespoke platform for young choreographers, will feature two young women: Teresa Phuti Mojela who will present -on 09 and 10 April- NGWEDI, a tribute to the late dancer and choreographer Themba Mbuli “who continues to be an inspiration and a soul mover to many artists in the country;” and Julia Burnham showcasing KNOTS & CODES on 05 and 06 April. Burnham’s work investigates the causes of misogyny, femicide and the domestic violence that has so rampantly escalated in recent years. In this category, the SAST provides free infrastructure plus technical support.
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 contemporary fusion of cultures.
Now in its’ 3rd installment, Kucheza Afrika Festival aims to be a platform that will help preserve dance in the country and in Africa and ensure that dancers always have a home at the continent’s biggest theatre, the State Theatre. The festival is the SAST’s aspiration to continue serving domestic and continental dance communities, as well as a call to action for Africa to converge as one in its diversity.
TICKET INFORMATION: Kucheze Afrika Festival tickets range from R80 to R150 at Webtickets- available online, Pick n Pay and the SAST.