Just in time for Black History Month, DanceHouse, in partnership with Digidance, welcomes audiences to view the North American premiere of the digital broadcast of South African dance company Via Katlehong and contemporary choreographer Gregory Maqoma’s Via Kanana, online February 16th to March 6th.
Pulsing with rhythmic vibrancy, eight warrior-like dancers combine the traditional, high-energy dance form of Pantsula (born out of South African protest) with tap, step, and gumboot—a miners’ dance based on handstrokes on the thighs and calves – into an exhilarating exploration of the problems and promise of their homeland.
Via Kanana is a non-stop torrent of energy with a powerful and urgent message. The hour-long work condemns the corrosive effects of corruption in South Africa and expresses frustration at how little has changed for the better for Black people since the end of apartheid.
Hailed as “inspiring” and “electrifying,” the production draws on a South African expression meaning “the promised land that never arrives” (Kanana in the Sotho language). Careening from the mundane to the metaphorical, and played out via a series of scenes and vignettes, Via Kanana opens with one word: corrupt, projected onto an angled white screen, and is repeated on a loop as part of the electronic soundtrack. Throughout the work, the dancers balance technical precision with wild abandon – dominated by the fast, frantic footwork of Pantsula that has drawn influences from everything from tribal dances to hip hop – while exploring themes of coercion, intimidation, and seduction. Founded in 1992, Via Katlehong is well-known for combining Pantsula, tap dance, step, and gumboot into a distinctly South African choreographic language that celebrates the calls for positive change.
Streaming February 16 to March 6, 2022, the Canadian digital broadcast of Via Kanana is due to the coordinated effort of Digidance, a national initiative formed in response to COVID-19 between four of Canada’s leading dance presenters: DanceHouse (Vancouver), Harbourfront Centre (Toronto), the National Arts Centre (Ottawa), and Danse Danse (Montreal).
“Digidance exists not only to share dance from around the world, but to bring audiences to the world through dance. With Via Katlehong – a company founded in the dying days of apartheid – we present a history and a vision connected to one of the modern world’s most challenging chapters,” says Jim Smith, Artistic and Executive Director of DanceHouse. “And while Via Kanana examines the unfulfilled promises and powers of South Africa, made in the transition to democracy 30 years ago, it does so with exuberance, passion, and above all – hope.”
For tickets and more information on Via Kanana and Digidance, visit, dancehouse.ca
The digital broadcast of Via Kanana includes a 20-minute pre-show documentary.