The International Arts Foundation presents the South African dance and musical event AFRICA UMOJA: 20 YEARS FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY TOUR, an acclaimed exuberant journey through South Africa’s early history to Apartheid to today, at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, for only four performances on January 6, 7, 8 and 9.
AFRICA UMOJA creators, directors and choreographers Todd Twala and Thembi Nyandeni bring a cast of 32 talented and vibrant professional dancers, singers and actors from South Africa to the New York City stage as the official USA representatives of South Africa’s 20 years of a freedom and democracy. AFRICA UMOJA uses the traditions of storytelling drum talk, dance and song. The sweeping tale moves from the potent rhythms of tribal music to the intricate steps of Gumboot dancing. The show has played to sold-out audiences in over 50 countries and held a 2014 USA tour in Washington DC, Charlotte, Atlanta, New Orleans and Miami.
An emotional tribute to South Africa and the Zulu heritage, AFRICA UMOJA blends traditional and contemporary elements including authentic Zulu dancing, explosive drumming and gospel music. AFRICA UMOJA, which in Swahili means “together,” tells the history of South Africa from the earliest rhythms of the Zulu drums to the current club sounds called “Kwaito.” The repertoire includes choreography, traditional love songs, lullabies and other musical expressions of rural life. There are African American spirituals and jazz salutes to South African legends Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela. The narration reflects on stories of love and community as well as overcoming pain and endurance of South Africa’s most tumultuous period era.
A tribute to Nelson Mandela, which visualizes the world leader’s time in jail until his release from prison in 1990, is one of the highlights of AFRICA UMOJA. There’s also a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which includes poignant renditions of classics Amazing Grace and Oh Happy Day.
AFRICA UMOJA is the vision of its founders and directors Todd Twala and Thembi Nyandeni. Both are choreographers and dancers, who were born and raised in Johannesburg’s Township of Soweto and have experienced life in a pre and post-Apartheid era. Together they choreographed and designed the costumes for the tour that began with a dream to give back to their community. AFRICA UMOJA stars Neo Chuene, Penwel Langa, Mbhali Ndlovu, Aphiwe Dumeka, Livhuwani Mawela (Lebo), Nompumelelo Mayiyani (Mpumi), and Kegomoditswe Nhlabathi (Kego). The executive producers of the USA tour are Joe Theron and Ernest D. Kelly, president and chairman of International Arts Foundation and managing partner for SAIG Entertainment.
“Audiences will experience heartfelt performances in an exciting tribute to South Africa and the Zulu heritage that punctuates our joint celebration with South Africa’s twenty years of freedom and democracy,” said Kelly, who specializes in cultural and business collaborations between the USA and South Africa. AFRICA UMOJA sponsors include South Africa Department of Arts and Culture and South African Airlines.
All performances for AFRICA UMOJA: 20 YEARS FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY TOUR begin at 7PM. Tickets are $75, with senior and student tickets also available.
Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased on line at www.symphonyspace.org, by calling (212) 864-5400 or at the box office.
Check out the performances on www.umojausatour.com