Gregory Maqoma takes his final bow on South African stages

Gregory Maqoma in his critically acclaimed production, Exit/Exist. PICTURE: Arthur Dlamini

In honour of his 50th birthday, South African dance legend Gregory Vuyani Maqoma revisits his production Exit/Exist, at the Pam Golding Theatre at the Baxter, for three shows only, from Thursday October 5 to Saturday October 7, at 7.30pm.

This production, which has been dear to his career over the years, is his second last performance in South Africa, as Maqoma retires from dancing this year.

Exit/Exist, directed by James Ngcobo, explores the memory of Maqoma’s distant ancestor, Chief Jongumsobomvu Maqoma, one of the most renowned Xhosa leaders, who was born in 1798, arrested when he ordered the English colonisers to liberate Xhosa land and died on Robben Island in 1873.

He embodies this forgotten history in a transformational and poignant performance that fuses storytelling with his own, contemporary dance vocabulary and spirited live music. Through his signature integration of traditional and contemporary dance, he invites audiences to reflect on who they are, where they come from, and how all of these facets, past and present, inform their personal and collective identities today.

“The return of Exit/Exist to the South African audience is not only befitting to the extraordinary journey I have taken so far, but marks 150 years since the passing of my ancestor, Chief Maqoma,” says Gregory. “The issue of land, that is emphasised in the work, is a trail of human misery and degradation, loss and hope.”

Four vocalists, Tobela Mpela, Sizwe Nhlapo, Lubabalo Velebayi and Sipho Mhlanga along with world-fusion guitarist Giuliano Modarelli, join Maqoma live on stage to perform the music score composed by Simphiwe Dana, under the musical direction of Happy Motha.

As he retires from dancing, Maqoma, who turns 50 on Monday October 16, believes his legacy is one of telling groundbreaking stories as a way of social commentary contributing to South Africa’s narrative. He last performed at the Baxter in 2021, along with Zolani Mahola (The One Who Sings), in Baxter Back on Stage.

Tickets cost R180 through Webtickets or Pick n Pay stores.