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Vincent Mantsoe is one of post-apartheid South Africa's leading choreographers. In Men-Jaro, Mantsoe joins forces with South African composer and ethnomusicologist Anthony Caplan to celebrate as well as redefine the intrinsic relationship that exists between African contemporary dance, ritual and music.
With an astonishingly intense, physical presence, Mantsoe leads an ensemble of dancers who are joined on stage by five musicians from the African Music Workshop Ensemble. Mantsoe's choreography is exquisitely crafted in response to the intricate rhythms and patterns of Caplan's original score played on indigenous Southern African instruments. Men-Jaro features a dynamic, transformative solo by Mantsoe along with eloquently composed duets, trios and larger ensembles. Mantsoe's company is truly international consisting of Aude Arago (France), Lesole Maine (South Africa/U.S.), Cecile Maubert-Mantsoe (France), and Meri Otoshi (Japan). Though Men-Jaro is rooted in South African traditions; it also draws on the unique heritage of each performer and Mantsoe's own assimilation of other cultures. Caplan's driving rhythmic score highlights the unique sounds of South Africa with instruments such as: mbira (thumb piano), umrhubhe (mouth bow), uhadi (gourd bow), botsorwane (string instrument), drums, shakers and clappers, all of which are perfectly complemented by the vocals of Sasa Magwaza.
Men-Jaro is a co-production of South Africa's FNB Dance Umbrella, Association Noa/Company Vincent Mantsoe and MultiArts Projects & Productions (MAPP) of New York City. The work premiered in South Africa at the FNB Dance Umbrella in March 2006 and toured in North America from January-March 2007.
The creation of Men-Jaro was made possible with support from foundations and government agencies in France, The Netherlands, U.S. and South Africa including:Association Francaise d'Action Artistique/AFAA and DRAC Auvergne Culture Communication in France; Prince Claus Fund of the Netherlands; Multi-Arts Production Fund of the Rockefeller Foundation and The National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Ford Foundation in the U.S.; Business Arts South Africa, Institut Francais d'Afrique du Sud, National Arts Council, and the Royal Netherlands Embassy via the Arts & Culture Trust of South Africa.