Gregory Maqoma’s CION: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero comes to Joburg Theatre

After much uncertainty and postponements due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the highly anticipated show Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero, will finally be staged at The Mandela at Joburg Theatre between 28 January 2022 until 6 February 2022.

The production is a unique creative fusion of contemporary African dance led by the renowned Gregory Maqoma and the harmonies of Grammy Award winning Soweto Gospel Choir. Vuyani Dance Theatre shares a visually stunning full-length work that brings literature to life with 20 dynamic dancers and 20 enchanting voices. In Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Boléro, Maqoma, the Creative Director of Vuyani Dance Theatre, draws inspiration from creations by two artists: the character Toloki in South African author Zakes Mda’s novel Cion, and music from French composer Maurice Ravel’s Boléro.

Gregory Maqoma says: “In this piece the message of death and its dire consequences are infused through a lament to be able to confront a universe in which the age-old tropes of greed, power and religion have given rise to loss of life not as a natural phenomenon. Toloki, the professional mourner weaves through this virtual landscape of dissolution giving rise to a catharsis of universal grief that will conquer the sadness, the hard reality continuing to permeate the living confronted by death that is not their own, often so unexpected, brutal and merciless.

“Cion as in Zion, the African church  is set in a graveyard, a church where the body is religion and the voices are personal. Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Boléro, draws inspiration from creations by two artists: the character Toloki in South African author Zakes Mda’s novels Cion and Ways of Dying and music from French composer Maurice Ravel’s Boléro. It’s a universal story encompassing the past and the present that champions our ability to band together to share the burden of grief.

“Set in a graveyard with the persistent cries of people in mourning and the acappella music of Isicathamiya in our languages led by a quartet and accompanied by Soweto Gospel Choir to the creative arrangement and composition by Nhlanhla Mahlangu that vividly elicits emotions associated with the loss of life performed by dancers who are themselves possessed by the spirit and being one with the departed souls and finally laying them to rest for peace and humanity to prevail. My message through this work is that we need to pause for a moment and urgently think about the pain inflicted on others by the actions of others.”

Chief Executive Officer of Joburg City Theatres, Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema comments: “Covid-19 has affected the arts and culture sector negatively. Artists and Theatres have been some of the most affected parties. We are delighted that CION will finally be staged and bring some kind of relief to the artists and audiences that have long been denied the wondrous and magical world of theatre. We look forward to welcoming all in the new year.”

CION will be staged under strict Covid-19 protocols including social distancing, masks and frequent sanitising.

Limited tickets are available in line with the COVID regulations on or by calling 0861 670 670. 

Production details:

Conceived and choreographed by    : Gregory Maqoma

Dancers                                             : Vuyani Dance Theatre 

Movement analyst/dramaturge         : Gladys Agulhas

Musical and vocal directors              : Nhlanhla Mahlangu assisted by Xolisile Bongwana and Sibusiso Shozi                                                                      

Set design                                         : Oliver Hauser

Original Lighting Design                 : Mannie Manim

Cion Amplified Lighting design      : Oliver Hauser

Sound Design                                   : Ntuthuko Mbuyazi

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