February 16 – March 6, 2022

Via Kanana

Via Katlehong Dance

South Africa

Pantsula, gumboot, traditional dance.

Via Kathlehong Dance and choreographer Gregory Maqoma propose an electrifying work based on a popular dance of street and protest of South Africa.

Dancers in colourful clothes in dynamic poses

Photo by Christian Ganet


Pulsing with rhythmic energy, eight performers of Via Katlehong Dance have teamed up with contemporary choreographer Gregory Maqoma for Via Kanana, examining corruption in South Africa and those in power who make unfulfilled promises in the transition to democracy since the end of Apartheid. At once powerfully physical and deeply emotional, the production evokes a metaphorical new promised land that sadly never arrives. Still, redemption is afoot: the emboldened citizens of South Africa rise and set out to find it for themselves. 

A short documentary about Via Kanana with members of the creative team will precede the performance, available exclusively for Digidance audiences.  

This Digidance stream is an initiative of DanceHouse (Vancouver), Danse Danse (Montreal), Harbourfront Centre (Toronto) and the National Arts Centre (Ottawa). 

About Via Katlehong Dance

Founded in 1992, the company takes its name from the township of Katlehong in the East Rand (Johannesburg), one of the deprived neighborhoods where the protestant Pantsula culture was born. The company has received several international awards. In all its shows, Via Katlehong Dance defends the Pantsula culture from which it comes.   

In the ’60s and ’70s, under the apartheid regime in South Africa, Black rural populations were displaced to the big cities and regrouped in the townships. In these ghettos, where unemployment and crime reign, the Pantsula culture, which all the youth of the townships could identify with, would be born. Like hip-hop in the United States and Europe, Pantsula culture is a lifestyle covering fashion, music, dance, gestural codes and speaking.

Like hip-hop, it finds its field of expression in the streets. In the ’90s, as a multi-racial South Africa slowly set in, Via Katlehong Dance continues the protest, fighting for young people in poor neighborhoods. Through shows and performances that combine Pantsula dance, tap dance, step and gumboot, these dances are performed together in collective energy and rhythm.

About Gregory Maqoma, Choreographer

Dancer, choreographer and teacher Gregory Maqoma is considered one of the most talented artists of the new generation in South Africa. Born in Johannesburg in 1973, he began his career with Moving into Dance, a company founded by Sylvia Glasser, an artist who has done much to promote exchange and dialogue between artists from different cultures.

In 1994, his first creation for the company won the FNB Vita Pick of the Fringe award; a year later, he was awarded a prize in the Stepping Stones category. In 1998, he received a grant to create Layers of Time, his final work with Moving into Dance. In 1999, he founded the Vuyani Dance Theater.  

Maqoma created the piece Rhythm 1.2.3, for which he was elected choreographer of the year 2000 by the Dance Umbrella Festival in Johannesburg. The same year, he choreographed Rhythm Blues, collaborated with Faustin Linyekula for the project Tales of the Mud Wall presented at the Impuls-Tanz festival in Vienna and participated in the project New Directions for the Standard Bank National Arts Festival.  

At the Centre national de la danse, he presented Southern Comfort in 2002, Miss Thandi in 2003 and Beautiful in 2005, the first part of a series of works, which concludes Beautiful Me. Maqoma was also in the dazzling Variations for Vibes, Strings & Pianos, choreographed by Akram Khan, on the occasion of the 70th birthday of the American composer Steve Reich in 2006 at the Cité de la Musique with the London Sinfonietta.