Dancer’s work digs deep

Wezile Mgibe Picture: Tobela Fudu

A Port Elizabeth-born performing artist who uses music, drama and dance as a tool for social change is presenting In These Streets at the Tramways Building on Thursday May 4.

Trained dancer Wezile Mgibe says the idea behind In These Streets germinated over a period of time.

“Last year I was honoured to be part of the OpenLab Residency, a national laboratory for creative practitioners interested in making art in the public realm,” Mgibe said.

“From that experience I created work that touched me and made me so eager to tell stories of our own sisters and brothers, stories that they’ve always kept inside because it so hard for them to trust anyone.”

The result is In These Streets, a performance piece which “talks about being yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you someone else, and how that can be the greatest achievement for an individual in this cruel world”.

Mgibe says it will be his first official public performance since his residency in the Northern Cape.

“I decided to do a preview in Port Elizabeth because it is home to me and I can relate,” he said.

The preview of In These Streets will include a 30-minute performance, followed by a meet-and-greet with the audience.

After this, Mgibe will take part in a question-and-answer session and give the audience a brief history of the work and the way forward.

“The work shows us how we can face and forgive some very difficult realities about ourselves,” he explains.

“How do we overcome our fears and the journey of being brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting?

“How willing are you to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and to accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher?

“The work shows us the bad and good side of the journey of self-discovery and how important it is to accept who we are.”

One of Mgibe’s first steps into the creative arena was when he was invited to co-choreograph Rebirth at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

His first work, Ubizo, was performed by the Johannesburg Dance Umbrella. Using his strong improvisation skills, he introduces informal movements in the dance space to tell stories.

The Mandela Bay Development Agency is sponsoring the venue.

For more information, e-mail Xabisa James at

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