The School of the Arts, in partnership with the Mellon Foundation’s Artist in Residence programme, welcomes Cape Town dancer and choreographer Mr Yaseen Manuel who will spend three months working with the Centre for Creative Arts production of the 23rd JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Festival, and the Drama and Performance Studies Programme.

Manuel will use the Mellon residency to create two screen dance films that will premiere at JOMBA!’s second digital presentation of its festival later this month. For this, he will work and collaborate with Durban’s FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY in an interesting interplay of digital online engagements. He will also host workshops and discussion sessions/seminars via Zoom with UKZN’s dance students during his three-month residency.

Manuel’s own Cape Town history and personal Muslim spirituality and legacy features prominently in his work. The South African dance community sat up and took notice of his work when he began a series of solos in 2016/17 that connected race, religion and ideas of masculinity in choreographed evocations of deeply neglected stories and identities in the South African landscape. His recent 2019 dance work ASLAMA, linked the Syrian massacre to a more internal battle for self and identity that was both terrifying and beautiful!

He is a skilled dancer and teacher and although he works as an independent artist, he is also a member of the ground-breaking integrated UNMUTE DANCE COMPANY.

UKZN’s Dr Lliane Loots, Artistic Director and Curator of the CCA’s JOMBA! festival, says that she is ‘delighted – at this very difficult time for dance – to open space to feature one of South Africa’s most original dance-making voices and the reminder he offers of yet still untold and underrepresented stories in our country.’

The premier of Manuel’s screen dance films at JOMBA! takes place online from 24 August to 5 September. Access to online viewing is free!

Click here for isiZulu version

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Val Adamson