Interview with Vincent Mantsoe

We spoke with Vincent Mantsoe about his pieces NTU and Skwatta

He will perform at DanceWorks Jan 29-31st at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre



DanceWorks: NTU means ‘nothingness’ and Skwatta refers to South Africa’s squatter camps. Why did you choose to express these concepts/states/ideas through dance? How do you understand these two pieces as relating to each other?

Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe: Even though “Nothing” pervades, something always take shape/form, either materialized or spiritually. Both NTU and Skwatta have been created for open dialogues, so I come to believe that both solos are connected either by the states of spirituality, humanity, poverty, pride and so on. NTU is nothing; you as an audience you can create and re-create this path for yourself and see where the path takes you, yet within this Nothingness, the simplicity of nothing, the state of something take shape. In this case Skwatta is the cure fact of how ‘underprivileged’ still live under dyer situations and this is not a unique condition only in South Africa but all over the world. The poor still get even poor and the rich still even richer.


“You as an audience you can create and re-create this path for yourself”


DW: Culture is something embodied; something we understand through being and living. How do you hold and express both traditional and contemporary elements within you and your work?

VSM: Well, It has been a bumpy road, but as long as I stand, walk, talk and can still express different issues or elements through my body, cultural preservation in the 21st century has always been my true ally. I also hold great respect for tradition, African, Asian and western. And living in the 21st century, I try to adapt old traditions, carefully crafted to be on an international arena where individuals can be inspired or simply travel a new path. Bumpy roads are simply obstacle that can be cleared with patience, and being true to your art. Over the years, I have been slowly crafting these elements. Do they fail? Do they work? Yes, they do. But the philosophy in both my work and in me thrives to be honest and be what it is.


“Bumpy roads are simply obstacle that can be cleared with patience, and being true to your art”


DW: How do certain places affect what you create? How does traveling to different places around the world affect the work you do?

VSM: Even though I am based in France, my work is very much rooted in Africa, specifically South Africa. Hence traveling around educates me in learning more of different cultures and how it can or cannot affect where I come from. Human culture/traditions have evolved, that is the nature of things. How it affects me and who I am matters as to how I create my work one way or another.


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Our Processes, Seen by the Outsider


Welcome to Forcier/Norman: Behind the Scenes!

The Who and the What?     While Tracey Norman and Marie France Forcier have been at work this season on what goes between and Scars are All the Rage, their respective pieces for Forcier/Norman, they invited Arts Writer Mark Mann to observe a few of their rehearsals and reflect about his experience. To preserve Mann’s outsider’s perspective, the creative intentions behind Forcier and Norman’s works were not discussed prior to those rehearsals.

The Why?     The initiative was launched to create an archive of those two creative processes, but also to demystify “how contemporary choreography is made” for the general public. It is also meant to provide insight to dance artists about how the uninitiated might perceive the creation process.

The Where and the When?    On this site, we will periodically share Mann’s written observations following the course of our processes, from late August 2014 until the…

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Seeing and Wanting


September, 2014 – Mark Mann Response #2 to Scars are All the Rage Rehearsal

Choreographer: Marie France Forcier /  Interpreters: Molly Johnson, Louis Laberge-Côté (Justine Comfort absent) / Location: hub 14 Toronto 

I really enjoyed the rehearsal yesterday, especially the tonal shifts between the first dance you guys were working on and the second and third.

It was really interesting to see the action of serendipity: the way you prepared occurrences that you couldn’t anticipate, but only recognize when they appeared. I liked observing how you ushered in the surprise, and the complicity of the dancers in your searching. Their trust.

So much of the work is solving problems, of course. I don’t know the kinds of thoughts that you have when the phrasing presents a dilemma, but it looks like an action of very careful letting go. Releasing the bodies, seeing what they’ll do.

It reminded me of how solutions always…

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Vincent Mantsoe interview with Mimi Beck (2005)

Vincent Mantsoe will be returning to Toronto January 29-31, 2015 – for tickets visit

The last time he graced the Toronto stage was a full decade ago!

DanceWorks’ curator Mimi Beck interviewed Vincent as part of the cultural dance dialogs series during his last visit




Vincent Mantsoe teaching & pedagogy

Check out these videos of Vincent teaching master classes



Interested in attending class with Vincent when he visits Toronto in January 2015?

Contact to book a workshop or register with Dance Immersion

dance immersion workshop flyer


Interview with Heidi Strauss about elsewhere


We spoke with Heidi Strauss about her newest piece elsewhere which will have its world premiere at DanceWorks on Sept 25-27 at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre (formerly the Enwave)


What was your impetus to create a show about affect?

I was interested in getting deeper into things I was already exploring in solo work and small groups – intimacy, ways of connecting to take away pretense around performing, to expose oneself to the unknown – in a way, to look at potential, and where you are able to go when you depend on the experiences that have brought you this far. I think “affect” has been at play in most of my work, and maybe now I’m just naming it – beginning to understand what it is. elsewhere, in a metaphorical way, is about many things I believe to be simultaneously important – in the way I think about life, relationships and time, and how I see some of these things as intrinsically connected to the moving body. What are these things? Well, that there is potential in almost everything – even the things that at first seem impossible, or not worthwhile. When I consider the never-to-happen-again moment, which in fact, are almost all moments in our lives, I think of what it is to perform: to understand for brief periods the idea of a ‘heightened now’ but in the most everyday way – a being conscious of all that is happening, knowing so much is also feeding us subconsciously.

“I think “affect” has been at play in most of my work, and maybe now I’m just naming it”

The impetus was never about expounding upon a theory. It was about creating an alternate space where it was possible to expose and reflect on time, on relationships, the place we’re in, what is deeply in us.


How has elsewhere been different (in terms of creative process) compared to other work you’ve made?

It has been the longest creation period, in terms both of the actual duration of time with the creative collaborators, and the amount of time it took to make happen. But I wouldn’t say it has been comparatively different from other works. Each work feels part of a larger cycle of understanding or attunement to what speaks, and how to find it (with myself and other people). It’s all part of a larger cycle of understanding one’s process – I think. Working at the Theatre Centre on a new creation while working on the final stages of elsewhere really allowed me to recognize this more fully.

The premiere of the work at DanceWorks on September 25th is the beginning of a new phase of growth (a new process) for the work. In some ways this is the irony of making performance in a room with a bunch of empty chairs; one day there are people in those chairs, and that makes all the difference.


What were some of the approaches you used in translating/exploring affect theory into dance?

My intent was never to translate affect theory into movement through a methodology or an approach that was prescribed. I don’t believe a sense of affect would be in evidence if I had chosen or had the ability to do this. I worked with different structures to keep opening the door to changes in the room, to reading the space as it really is, to new sensations in the body, thoughts that intertwine with the experience of the physical interaction with other people and space.

“I asked myself to stop looking for answers”

In the very first process we worked with transposition (of movement structures, and memory-based embodiment) but by the time we met again, I recognized this as a superficial entry point – at least for me. So I asked myself to stop looking for answers; the end point is elusive when you are after potential, or when you look for what is concrete in what can only ever be ephemeral. No surprise that aspects of destabilization and control emerged after that in the work.
Without a doubt, the greatest asset to the exploration has been a group of dancers who are sensitized to each other and who each, individually, carry a breadth of experience that enable them a personal way of being in elsewhere.


For more information on DanceWorks and elsewhere visit our website, follow us on Twitter @DanceWorksTO or friend us on Facebook

elsewhere by Heidi Strauss

Toronto artist Heidi Strauss of adelheid dance will open DanceWorks 2014-15 Mainstage Series with the world premiere of elsewhere.

elsewhere is a place where what has happened leave its traces on our bodies, our gestures, the space between us. It is the uncomfortable point where the inevitability of our responses becomes visible; where control, strength and empathy are temporary. elsewhere speaks to resilience in the face of unknowing.

Affect gives you away: the telltale heart; my clammy hands; the note of anger in your voice; the sparkle of glee in their eyes. You may protest your innocence, but we both know, don’t we, that who you really are, or what you really are, is going to be found in the pumping of your blood, the quantity and quality of your perspiration, the breathless anticipation in your throat, the way you can’t stop yourself from grinning, the glassy sheen of your eyes. Affect is the cuckoo in the nest; the fifth columnists out to undermine you; your personal polygraph machine.

– Ben Highmore, in “The Affect Theory Reader”, edited by Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth.



Harbourfront Centre Theatre
Sept 25, Sept 26 & Sept 27, 8pm
adelheid (Toronto)

Choreographer: Heidi Strauss
Performers: Danielle Baskerville, Miriah Brennan, Luke Garwood, Molly Johnson and Brendan Wyatt

Purchase tickets here

That’s A Wrap!

DanceWorks wrapped up the 2013-14 Season this past weekend. Thank you to our Mainstage artists firstthingsfirst productions, 605 Collective, Signal Theatre, Robert Glumbek and Kevin O’Day, and Bboyizm Dance Company. Here are some photographic highlights of the past season.

605 Collective
Greyeyes1robt & kevinBboyizm MCO

{Photo Credits from top to bottom: Jeremy Mimnagh, Robert Sondergaard, John Lauener, unknown, unknown}


Also, a special thank you to our CoWorks artists Hanna Kiel/Human Body Expression, Lua Shayenne & Company, and Find the Floor Dance Collective.

Hanna Kiel Rehearsal 3Lua ShayenneJillPromoFinal-1-1

{Photo Credits from top to bottom: unknown, Rema Tavares, unknown}

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