Naledi Award Nominee, Thamsanqa ‘Thami’ Tshabalala, is back with another original dance piece titled ‘Isenyuso’, which will run at the Soweto Theatre from the 5th to the 7th of May
Tshabalala has proved to be a tour de force, as since matriculating from the National School of the Arts in 2009 with full colours and graduating from the TUT in 2013, he has been afforded tremendous opportunities to choreograph and dance for some of the industries top
theatre and dance doyens like Andile Stali, Kebu Mwale and Dada Masilo, to name a few.
After tremendous success with his first choreographed dance piece, ‘Simon’, which received
critical acclaim at the relaunch of the Dance Umbrella in 2019 and at several dance national
festival like the PACE Festival and the Solo & Duet Festival at the Soweto Theatre, it was
nominated in the Best Contemporary/Ballet Production 2019 category at the Naledi Awards
2020. Since his return to South Africa in August 2021, after a successful Vienna-Austria dance tour of Dada Masilo’s ‘The Sacrifice’, Tshabalala has hit the dance floor running and is excited to stage his next new dance piece in his hometown, Soweto, called ‘Isenyuso’.
Inspired by life, Tshabalala was moved by a painting at a gallery in France which depicted a black man, figuratively carrying his life on his shoulders; his inheritance, his ancestors, his families’ expectations… This resonated with Tshabalala as he saw himself in this picture; being a queer man of colour living in a society of sometimes unreasonable expectations, but also trying to balance being true to his roots and the importance of tradition.
He was further influenced by the book ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe which once
again reminded him of this painting and his own disposition. The story chronicles the life of Okwonkwo, an Igbo man and local wrestling champion in the fictional Nigerian tribe of
Umofia. He was empowered by the notion of superiority and toxic masculinity which became his downfall and led him astray from the genuine essence of being his true desired self.
Says Tshabalala “I really thought this painting would make a great dance piece, and after
reading ‘Things Fall Apart’, I realised that I wanted to tell my story; being a queer man of
colour who is constantly expected to conform to societal expectations.”
And so Isenyuso was born. Isenyuso, a noun, is derived from the native isiZulu language meaning ASCENSION. This is a contemporary dance work that details a global narrative of individual justice, liberty, representation and the preserving of heritage. All scrutinized through the lens of a new age man of colour, supported by his history as an African Man; it is a marriage of a fresh Afro-classical feel. Audio visuals are accompanied by intricate and conversational movement, and choreography is used to express the words with a modern sound.
“I think this relates to a lot of young black boys as well. The narrative is always about the girl or woman, and young boys are often forgotten. How are we raising our boys to become men? This is what I want to address.” he continues, “I want to tell my story, their stories; to be their voice at the forefront. The more we tell their stories, the more we educate them.”
Watch Isenyuso at the Soweto Theatre from the 5th to the 7th of May 2022. All shows start at 19:30. Tickets are R120 and can be purchased through Webtickets or at Pick n Pay.
Choreographer: Thamsanqa ‘Thami’ Tshabalala
Performers: Thamsanqa Tshabalala & Liyabuya Gongo
Director: Mamela Nyamza
Technical Director: Wilhelm Disbergen
Art Work: Nicholas de Vries – Original image by Graham de Lacy
Follow Thami Tshabalala on all Social Media platforms.
The following Covid-19 level one protocols will be adhered to:
All guests must wear masks and sanitise upon entrance into the Soweto Theatre.
Audience is limited to 50% of venue capacity.
Health questionnaire screening at all entrances with a temperature check.
Each guest must produce their Identity Documents upon entrance in order to complete the health questionnaire.
Inside the venue, social distancing is strictly adhered to.