Beautiful Me

Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland

07/03/2011 - 09/03/2011

Auckland Fringe 2011

Production Details


For the first time in New Zealand, internationally renowned South African dancer and choreographer Gregory Maqoma performs Beautiful Me, a solo piece that has mesmerised audiences with its blend of unlikely dance elements – Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, contemporary Indian kathak and Afro-fusion.

Calling himself a "cultural cocktail", Maqoma mixes it up. An eclectic range of instruments including the sitar, cello, violin and percussion produce live backing music in response to his staccato movements.These are blended with songs, chants, and the clicking of the Zulu language Xhosa to entrancing effect. Maqoma’s performance takes audiences on an extraordinary journey, leading them through difficult periods of great social and political change in recent African history, but always returning them to the personal. He becomes a moving portrait representing the emotions, histories and traditions which inform his life.

In Beautiful Me Maqoma worked with three contemporaries, choreographers Akram Khan (UK), Faustin Linyekula (Congo) and Vincent Mantsoe (South Africa). An exciting opportunity to experience one of the most fascinating and interesting facets of the FranceDanse programme.

Beautiful Me is presented as part of FranceDanse 2011, four choreographers supported in their Auckland performances by the Institut Francais.

Director: Gerard Bester
Lighting design: Michael Mannion
Lighting operator: Enid Molapo
Costume design: Sun Goddess
Wardrobe: Luvuyo Msila

1 hour

Beautiful Me indeed

Review by Bernadette Rae 10th Mar 2011

The stage is dark with just the faint gleam of drum kit, sita, cello, violin and four seated musicians.

Then light as subtle as sunrise picks out the sculptured shape of a man. It highlights first his hugely expressive hands and immensely mobile feet as they flutter and stir.

The man soon introduces himself in words. "My name is Gregory Maqoma, an African dancer. I sell exotic stories to survive."

The physicality of Maqoma’s dance is intense, with slapping feet, lightning speed, twisting torso, startling shimmy and shake, isolations of body parts – hips, shoulders, neck, ribcage – as sharp and clear as the clicking language of Xhosa that accompanies one section.

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A special gift

Review by Roxanne de Bruyn 08th Mar 2011

To fully appreciate Beautiful Me, you need to relax back, and allow yourself to be lulled along by the performance. A good story should never be rushed, and Gregory Maqoma takes his time telling his, slowly drawing the audience in as though giving them a special gift.
Through music, movement and conversation with his absent contributors, Maqoma tells the story of himself, delving into his own identity and context. He places himself and choreographer Faustin Linyekula in the midst of historical names, giving the audience a framework in which to see him.
Definitively African in the Xhosa introduction, music and historical references, his dancing is a fusion of styles. His hands are expressive and every step is precise and effortless, animalistic and fluid in turns. He has wonderful technique and superb control; even fast frantic movements are intentionally placed.
Music, space, dance, sounds and lighting join together in telling this story. All these aspects are intricately woven together to create the whole, and empower and constrain each other in turns. While free-flowing and creative, there is a sense of restriction. Any sound or movement is possible, but only within a clearly defined space. Dance can only happen if the music agrees and the two must join together to progress the story.
This feeling of constraint is reflected in the dancing. While his performance is expressive and unpredictable, Maqoma’s control is so absolute that he seems to restrain himself, never quite letting go. This builds a feeling of tension around the work, creating unspoken boundaries and hinting at a darker side to the story. Dreams, aspirations and imagination are an ongoing theme, but that which is unsaid seems to hold them in place, casting doubt on whether they can ever be fulfilled.
Charming and philosophical in places, Beautiful Me is fascinating and intriguing, touching on memories and possibilities. It is a collaboration in the truest sense – making music, dance and lighting tangible and giving the other choreographers an almost physical presence. These threads come together beautifully, creating an interesting and thoughtful performance which allows the audience to see the world through another’s eyes.

For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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