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PRESS: Gregory Maqoma's CION: REQUIEM OF RAVEL'S BOLERO at the Baxter Theatre for three performances only

Fahiem Stellenboom


Gregory Maqoma’s highly acclaimed Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero, at The Baxter for three performances only, from 21 to 23 March 2024 at 7.30pm.

Gregory Maqoma’s critically acclaimed Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero, comes to Cape Town at The Pam Golding Theatre at The Baxter, for three performances only, from 21 to 23 March 2024 at 7.30pm.


Physically charged and visually striking, the work is conceived and choreographed by the internationally renowned, Gregory Vuyani Maqoma and performed by the Vuyani Dance Theatre. It draws inspiration from author Zakes Mda’s novel, Cion and Ravel’s Boléro and is, in Maqoma’s words, “a lament, a requiem required to awaken a part of us, the connection to the departed souls.”


The production has been performed to great success in cities like New York, Washington, Marseille, London, Joburg, Durban and other cities around the globe. The critics raved. Financial Times described it as, “gripping, poignant,” while Mail & Guardian simply called it a “… tour de force … masterpiece …” and Critics Notebook said, “A dance steals the show at an Opera Festival.” The New York Times saying, “a gripping-opera in New York” and “Grief and Mourning, Delivered With Ecstatic Vitality.”


This season at The Baxter follows Maqoma’s sensational success at the theatre last year when he presented another of his illustrious productions, Exit/Exist, in honour of his 50th birthday and his retirement from performing.


Nhlanhla Mahlangu is the musical director and composer, costumes by BlackCoffee, set design and technical direction by Oliver Hauser, original lighting design by Mannie Manim and    sound design is by Ntuthuko Mbuyazi.

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 sang by a quartet to the creative arrangement and composition by Nhlanhla Mahlangu that vividly elicits emotions associated with the loss of life performed by nine dancers who are themselves possessed by the spirit and being one with the departed souls and finally lying them to rest for peace and humanity to prevail. Maqoma’s 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.


Set in a graveyard filled with the persistent cries of visitors in mourning and the poignant music of Isicathamiya singers (an a cappella singing style originating from the Zulus), Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Boléro vividly elicits emotions associated with the loss of life.


Cion: Requiem for Ravel’s Bolero is on at The Pam Golding Theatre at The Baxter for three performances only from 21 to 23 March 2024 at 7.30pm. Ticket prices are between R180 and R200 and booking is through Webtickets online or at Pick n Pay stores.




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