Top choreographer's moving solo act gives glimpse of Mozambique's past

Fresh from the Grahamstown National Arts Festival is Mozambique’s first contemporary dance company, CulturArte which will perform at the Guild Theatre on Saturday as part of a tour of South Africa, Madagascar and Mozambique.

Founded by renowned dancer and choreographer, Panaibra Gabriel Canda, CulturArte is also involved in artistic development and training programmes for dance projects and Southern African artists.

The company is celebrating its 20th anniversary with Time & Space: The Marrabenta Solos, a double bill featuring a 60- minute solo dance by Canda who is accompanied by guitarist Jorge Domingos.

Canda has been described by the New York Times as “a compelling dancer, rhythmically cogent with stamping feet and eloquent with curving arms and a swayed back”.

The piece, which was choreographed by acclaimed Swiss choreographer Thomas Hauert, journeys through Mozambique’s complex history in the musical form of marrabenta which came out of the 1950s and is a mix of Mozambican and European styles.

The hour-long dance explores a crisis of identity and deconstructs cultural meanings of a “pure” African body – and a Mozambican body in particular. Canda’s dance showcases today’s African post-colonial, plural body that has embodied the ideal of nationalism, modernity, socialism and freedom of expression.

The tour is supported by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation.

Guild Theatre manager Zane Flanagan said he was “delighted” that the CulturArte dance company had decided to grace the city with a performance.

“We would like to attract more shows that are on their way or returning from the National Arts Festival to perform here.”

Time & Space: The Marrabenta Solos will be staged at the Guild Theatre on Saturday July 7 at 7.30pm. Tickets cost R60 at Computicket.F