Born in 1976 in the townships of Cape Town, Mamela Nyamza is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and activist in South Africa.
A classically trained dancer (ballet and Spanish interalia), she is recognised today primarily as a contemporary dancer.
Her latest work, De-Apart-Hate, premiered at the Dance Umbella 2017 on Friday 24 February 2017 to a packed house at the Amphitheatre, Wits University.
The work is about religion and its role in society. The programme says “The work and its related performance depict embodied defiance, desperation, dismantling and detonation of all institutional myths and fallacies that keep people apart. DE-APART-HATE thus uses religion to symbolise all the pervasiveness of oppressive and devisive forces that infiltrate all society. Religion works to restrict and homogenise. ”
A see-saw bench in the rainbow colours of the gay flag is the sole prop. (Technical design by Buntu Tyali). Costume by Shiba Sopotela.
Mamela Nyamza and Aphiwe Livi create powerful chemistry as they explore the balance of power in relationships with the church, male and female and with society.
Bible verses are quoted setting various contexts. Only two songs are used, one at the beginning, a well known hymn, Indumiso, and a protest song, Asephelelanga.
The work resonates strongly with the current situation in South African culture as well as the global experience and it touched many people in the audience. One could sense the barriers going up and coming down. It felt controversial and moving and the mood of the audience switched several times during the performance.
This is truly what great contemporary dance is about, challenging people, making them think for themselves and entertaining them in the process.