Award-winning dancer and choreographer Mamela Nyamza’s autobiographical work Hatched is constantly evolving. Performed recently as part of the 8th Artscape Women’s Humanity Arts Festival, Hatched involves Nyamza’sson Amkele Mandla, who joins her on stage as part of her performance. When the piece was first performed – at the New Dance Festival in Johannesburg – Amkele was nine years old. He is now 14, and Nyamza has reinvented and adapted her choreography accordingly.
Hatched expresses deeply personal and challenging identity issues of culture, tradition and a woman’s evolving sexuality. Visually alluring to watch, Hatched opens with the sight of Nyamza wearing only a long skirt covered in wooden clothes pegs. To be thus topless is typically associated with African women, and she adopts African customs such as carrying a bucket on her head, yet she is wearing elegant pointe shoes that originate from Europe. The juxtaposition of cultures is reflected in the music which alternates between Tchaikovsky classics and African music. As Nyamza performs motherly tasks such as hanging up the washing, her son sits on the side of the stage painting a picture.
The choreographic vocabulary also weaves beautiful classical balletic lines with rhythmic African movement. Nyamza is a sensational performer, devoting her complete focus and commitment to the production. The piece ends with her shedding her pointe shoes and her skirt. Rid of these cultural shells into which she has tried to mould herself, she hangs them on the washing line and grooves on stage, finally free to be herself.
Mamela Nyamza’s Hatched was performed at the Artscape Arena Theatre on 8 August 2014 as part of the Artscape’s annual Women’s Arts & Humanity Festival.