Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe, a long-time friend of JOMBA! presented his lockdown dance-film on the Digital JOMBA! programme (Photograph: Val Adamson)

Vincent Mantsoe’s “Cut” connects

By Thobile Maphanga

Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe is a Giant in the South African dance scene. Just **sigh**… I never have the words to describe what I feel after watching him, and that is not because there is nothing to talk about but rather that what he does is, for me, beyond speech or words. I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to watch him, live, a few times on South African stages, mostly at JOMBA! as he now resides in France. So, this is really an attempt to put into words what I find inexpressible.

The first thing I notice as the film opens, besides the initial sharpness of the music is the single drop of sweat that drips off his face. I am instantly aware of the work that has gone on before this moment. His head seems to push the black space away, a darkness that will return again and again, pressing down, closing in, pounding at irregular intervals. The soundscape, by Mpho Molikeng, paints a deserted fallow landscape. Mantsoe’s form, statuesque, advances on diagonal in a steady placed course, precise and focused. His arms seem to go on forever, yet his body completely grounded, until… a tiny moment of hesitation, shifting, reaching. Sudden franticness that comes off track. Responsive turmoil navigating the disruption. To return or to push through? It won’t be the same. Fatigue. Breath. Thirst. Try again. Differently. The fluid tension builds until the music stops and we are left only with the laboured breath that is as persistent as the body. Refusing to give in. Knowing we are not done!

The offering provided in Cut, by Vincent Mantsoe, is an acknowledgement of the place we all find ourselves in, cut off, dismembered and not entirely whole. His honest gifting is generously humane as it reminds us that we are not alone in this solitude and as he asserts in the talk back “my journey is not finished. I’m not done”. I am at once relieved to know there is more to look forward to in part two of Cut.

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JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience

JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience

24th annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience 30 August – 11 September 2022 (hybrid festival)