The iconic Gold Rhino of Mapungubwe to be taken to stage at South African State Theatre

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor
A dance production that is inspired by one of the iconic legacies of the ancient Kingdoms that still continues to attract researchers into its life and times, is headed to the South African State Theatre.
Significantly this will be the first time that the famous Gold Rhino of Mapungubwe, currently housed at Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria, will be dramatised.
This in many ways is extending this famous golden rhino’s life aspects. Creating a stage production around this artefact is also another way of making it more accessible to the public as this is likely going to create curiosity among theatre audiences about this ancient Southern African Kingdom, which has though mysteriously disappeared.
This Kingdom was home to our ancestors, who were so advanced technological and in terms of world trade that they made wonderful art, tools and of course refined gold. They traded with the outside world such as the Portuguese and the Arabs among others.
It is Indeed the World premiere of a truly African ballet – The Gold Rhino of Mapungubwe, being staged from 26 April to 30 April 2023 at the South African State Theatre in Pretoria. The opening night on 26 April will see double Grammy-winner Wouter Kellerman perform on stage with the dancers.

“Mzansi Ballet is proud to announce the staging of The Gold Rhino of Mapungubwe Ballet in association with the South African State Theatre in Pretoria. The ballet is a multi-faceted celebration of history and heritage, commissioned by The South African International Ballet Competition (SAIBC). This World Première takes place on 26 April 2023 at the State Theatre in Pretoria. The production runs from 26 to 30 April 2023. Tickets are available from Webtickets.

The Gold Rhino of Mapungubwe Ballet features captivating and innovative ballet and dance narration and choreography; dedicated music compositions and spectacular, rich, costume-, jewellery- and set designs. Created through a collaboration by leading South African and International artists that includes choreographer Angela Revie, Mpho Molikeng and Mdu Nhlapo; musical arranger, director and composer Mark Cheyne; co-composer and Indigenous Music specialist Mpho Molikeng together with other co-composers, SJ Khosa; Dr Cara Stacey and Matthijs van Dijk. It features three compositions by double Grammy-winning flautist, producer and composer Wouter Kellerman. Décor coordination and design is by Andrew Botha and costumes are designed by leading South African designer David Tlale. The Mzansi Ballet includes dancers from South Africa together with international dancers enlisted from Cuba, China and South Korea,” says a statement from the producers.

The powerful storyline expressed through this ballet, holds the connection of the mythical world, the ancient world and modern society thereby captivating audiences through the magic of stagecraft. It brings to the forefront a 1,000-year-old lost civilization and includes a 100-year-old archaeological discovery that clashed with colonial politics at the time.

Dirk Badenhorst, Idea originator and Director of Mzansi Ballet says, “The Gold Rhino of Mapungubwe Ballet is considered to form an important pillar in the effort to reclaim history – not just for South Africa but for the African and Asian Continents. Furthermore, the popular rediscovery of our African heritage significantly shapes our peoples’ identity and our sense of pride – thus inspiring further entrepreneurship, innovation and growth across all aspects of society.”

According to Aubrey Sekhabi, Artistic Director of the South African State Theatre, “The staging of the Gold Rhino of Mapungubwe Ballet is a cross-sectional harnessing of the historical, cultural and economic sectors, which converge to boldly articulate our pan-African philosophy. This project also profiles the Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) strategy – to reposition the cultural industries in South Africa and pedestal South Africa as the home of diversity in the arts, contributing to economic growth and job creation. We believe that even as this is presented during the Kucheza Afrika Festival, our clarion call for Africa to unite in dance, will be heeded and our artists’ hope be restored.”

The staging of The Gold Rhino of Mapungubwe Ballet is of strategic national and continental importance, capturing and instilling the ancient heritage identity of Africa. All through a unique blend of edutainment offerings and performing art genres, capturing both national and global attention. This offers the perfect backdrop for students following the current South African Grade 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11 History and Art school curriculum. The goal of Mzansi Ballet is to annually bring this story, through ballet, to schools across South Africa as inspiration for the country’s youth to understand and enjoy the richness of culture and history.
Distinguished thought leader, businessman, and President of the Institute of Directors in South Africa (IoDSA), Dr Reuel Khoza, says, “A nation’s soul finds its best expression through its arts and poetry. Song and dance are arguably the most creative and entertaining. Couple this with the quintessential African history of Mapungubwe and the Ancient Kingdom’s most famous artefact, the Golden Rhino, the outcome is the Gold Rhino of Mapungubwe Ballet. Authentic, compelling, captivating, innovative, and scintillating beyond description. Not to be missed.”

Show times:

Wednesday, 26 April 202320h00
Thursday, 27 April 202315h00
Friday, 28 April 202320h00
Saturday, 29 April 202315h00 and 20h00
Sunday, 30 April 202315h00

Ticket prices range from R 150 to R250. Block bookings of ten or more receive a 10% discount.

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