DARK CELL : The Charter

Dance • Running Time: 60 mins
Creator and Director : Themba Mbuli Choreography : Themba Mbuli, Thulani Chauke and Fana Tshabalala Performers: Themba Mbuli and Thulani Chauke Costume Design : Keaoleboga Seodigeng
Warning: 16 + N
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Dark Cell (Duet) features two Standard Bank Young Artist Award recipients for Dance, Themba Mbuli and Fana Tshabalala with Thulani Chauke, who join forces to reimagine Mbuli’s Dark Cell (Solo) which has already toured 10 countries and 15 cities.

While the work is celebrating and commemorating the rich history of Kliptown where the adaptation of Freedom Charter was made 64 years ago, the piece is also embedded in the past as a mirror of contemporary society and reflecHon of postcolonial interioriHes.

Dark Cell draws its inspiration and metaphors from historical living condition of ex- political prisoners in Robben Island parallel to the imagery of the current degrading living conditions that people of Kliptown are faced with. This theatrical dance work uses the concept of a incarceration as a metaphor for the modern day concentraHon camp in Kliptown.

Themba Mbuli’s 2012 solo creation Dark Cell, was a response to Dark City, which draws its inspiration from images of political prisoners on Robben Island to explore issues around mental imprisonment – what Mbuli calls “the worst prison that any man can ever be in”. The work has since been performed at several festivals in South Africa, including the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2014, and has toured Sweden, Argentina, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia the Netherlands Wales and England. 

“THERE’S STILL TIME to change your plans today and go and see what is arguably the finest piece of dance that has graced Johannesburg’s stages in a long while... Dark Cell is a compelling, beauHful and well-made piece. It’s the kind of work that should be billed on the front of many a dance programme – not only in this city.” - Robyn Sassen

Themba Mbuli

2016 Standard Bank Young ArHst Award Recipient, Themba Mbuli received his formal training at Moving into Dance Mophatong (MIDM) in 2007. He joined Inzalo Dance Theatre Company as a trainee performer under Moeketsi Koena in 2008. In 2009, he was accepted back at MIDM As a dancer, teacher and choreographer.

Mbuli’s first ensemble creaHon Dark City won the Pick of the Fringe award at the FNB Dance Umbrella FesHval in 2010.

In 2011 Mbuli joined Theatre Talipot Company in Reunion Island as a principle dancer. Mbuli began his solo career in 2012 with Dark Cell, performing naHonally including the NaHonal Arts FesHval in 2014, and internaHonally in Sweden, Zimbabwe, ArgenHna, Uganda, Mozambique, Namibia, the Netherlands, England and Wales. Other recent works include Trapped, ASHED, Dark Cells, SOLD, Autho(r)ise that was commissioned by Baxter Dance FesHval 2017 and Memory Box that premiered at the Dance Umbrella FesHval 2018.

He is a co-founder together with Fana Tshabalala and Thulani Chauke – of Broken Borders Arts Project. He was also a co-founder, Producer and ArHsHc Advisor for a Cape Town based Unmute Dance Theatre, formed in 2014.

Thulani Chauke

Chauke began his formal training in 2009 at Moving Into Dance Mophatong (MIDM) as part of the Performing Arts Training Course (PATC) and liole did he know that he will be selected to be a trainee and later that year he joined the MIDM Professional Dance Company, this all happened ajer years of performing and training with community groups in Soweto. As a Company Member at MIDM he conHnued to flourish as an Afrofusion and Hip Hop Dance Teacher, in 2011 he joined Vuyani Dance theatre as a Company member & Outreach Teacher, whilst being with VDT he parHcipated in the Crossings InternaHonal Workshops - Crossings InternaHonal Workshop was an eye opener for Thulani and its where he discovered his arHstry and how to conHnue being authenHc while creaHng thought provoking works. In 2012 he joined Forgooen Angle Theatre CollaboraHve as a Dancer, Choreographer and Community Arts Engagement Officer unHl March 2017. It was at FATC that Chauke created his first solo work BLACK DOG during a residency Programme in France at the CND- (Centre NaHonal de la Danse) Paris and at the Klap Maison Pour

La Danse in Marsellie 2013. This solo work has been performed at several dance fesHvals since its creaHon.

Chauke has parHcipated and performed in various dance fesHvals and works and he has worked with internaHonally acclaimed choreographers: Gregory Maqoma, PJ Sabbagha, Fana Tshabalala, Shanell Winlock, Ivan Estegneev and Evgeny Kulagin (Russia), Iain Macdonald, Qudus Onikeku (Nigeria), Themba Mbuli, Andrea Severa (ArgenHna). From 2016 he has been working on William Kentridge’s creaHons and he has been part of Centre For The Less Good Idea season 1 project 2017. His currently working for Broken Borders Arts Project as a choreographer, performer and facilitator. This is a new company that was started by Fana Tshabalala, Themba Mbuli and Thulani Chauke. His Choreographic work “Nothing Makes Sense” has been commissioned by Goethe InsHtute for its program GPS- (Goethe Project Space 2017 & 2018) and the same work has been commissioned by the Dance Umbrella FesHval for its 2018 Main Program.

Fana Tshabalala

Fana Tshabalala, 2013 standard bank young arHst award recipient for dance and 2014 visa for creaHon recipient, former associate arHsHc director of the forgooen angle theatre collaboraHve. Fana has been choreographing and performing his work locally and internaHonally, one of his work Htled “Between” was part of Dance Dialogue Africa, through this involved the work toured Germany and later on toured Africa reaching 12 countries and 14 ciHes. He was also part of the choreographic workshop that took place in South Africa were he worked with dancers from Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève and other South Africans choreographers.

Early 2015 year he worked with Nanziwe Mzuzu a writer from Cape Town on a tv documentary commissioned by Etv, the documentary was inspired by his latest solo Htled “Man”. Amongst other things he has done he also worked with children from Kliptown youth program on two dance movies that became a run up for short film compeHHon in Paris.

Fana also worked and choreographed for internaHonal dance companies that includes deeply rooted dance theatre(chicago) and lena”s company in sweden. He has been very instrumental in working with the market theatre arHsHc director James Ngcobo in his theatre works as a choreographer and movement director, the works includes “Leoers from Madiba”, “A raisin in the sun”, “Childrens monologues” and many others.

Fana Tshabalala is currently a co-founder and one of director for Broken borders art project.

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