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“I can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years since this international powerhouse was last here. I’m thrilled he is returning with DanceWorks as part of a Canadian tour with two new solos.”
— Lynanne Sparrow, Artistic Associate – Dance
NTU and Skwatta are part of a pan-Canadian tour by South African dancer Vincent Mantsoe, whose unique language and approach, integrating traditional and contemporary forms, have captivated audiences around the world. The program is comprised of two riveting solos choreographed and performed by Mantsoe, both embodying the limitless spirituality and realities of his South African homeland.
NTU (Nothing) explores the idea that even if nothingness pervades, there is always something taking form – what may be created in your own mind. There can be nothing else inside NTU except the path it is destined to take on its own.
Skwatta follows NTU and is a comment on the informal settlements or “squatter” camps in South Africa. In these settlements, laughing or smiling portrays every corner of hell, from pointless arguments to strange echoes of precious cries, This stirs clouds of dust, day and night, that is a winter blanket covering the Skwattas.
DanceWorks began in 1977 as a collective of independent dance artists. It has grown to become Toronto’s leading presenter of independent dance. With a strong belief that dance has the power to illuminate, engage and transform all who participate, DanceWorks offers season after season of eclectic, exhilarating choreography programmed to intrigue, challenge and enthrall. DanceWorks adds to the theatrical experience with Carol’s Dance Notes and post-performance conversations with artists. DanceWorks is the administrator of the CanDance Network and Dance Ontario Association.
Growing up in Soweto, South Africa, Vincent Mantsoe learned to dance through youth clubs, street dancing and music videos. He also participated in traditional rituals involving song and dance practiced by the women in his family, who were traditional healers.
In 1990, Mantsoe won a scholarship to Sylvia Glasser’s Moving Into Dance Company (MID) in Johannesburg. There, he began exploring the possibility of merging street dance with traditional dance. From 1997 until 2001, Mantsoe was associate artistic director of MID. Primarily a solo performer, he has also created work for ensembles including Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City and COBA (Collective of Black Artists) in Toronto.
Mantsoe’s choreography combines traditional African dance with contemporary, aboriginal, and Asian and ballet influences in a cross-cultural Afro-fusion style. He acknowledges the influence of spirituality in his creative work. Describing a process of “borrowing from the ancestors,” he notes the importance of understanding and appreciating the sources of his traditional movements.
Mantsoe has toured internationally, performing at venues including The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the Dance Umbrella in London, England, and Canada’s National Arts Centre in Ottawa. He has also won many awards, including top prize at the Vth and VIth Rencontres chorégraphique de Bagnolet (officially the Rencontres chorégraphique internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis) in 1996 and 1998. In 1999, he received the Prix du Peuple at the Festival international de nouvelle danse in Montréal, Canada.
"I was overwhelmed by Mantsoe's choreography, the passionate language of his body as a site of struggle echoing the struggle of humanity caught in cycles of poverty."
– Prosperity Shange
"Such is the nature of Mantsoe's performance - his absolute commitment to his craft is like nothing else that I have witnessed."
– Caitlin Perkins