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If you don’t wash the dishes, no ballet for you today.
But I took my swimming costume and ran …
Me and her, you and them, us both.

“Wena Mamela!” is the phrase Mamela’s grandmother used to call her whenever she ran away from doing house chores as a young girl. She would just put on her swimming costume and go off to ballet. This piece describes Nyamza’s experience of having been subjected to be an understudy during her university years even though she was good enough for a lead role, to being an outcast from her own town.

Nyamza’s solo confronts the encounter between the solo artist and the gaze of the audience: a construction is made out of her private personae, invisible working conditions, visible attributes and unspoken prejudices. With the strategy of disidentification, Nyamza performs and mocks the polyphonic identity she brings on stage.

Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt, Artistic Director of WAW


Mamela Nyamza is a dancer, teacher, choreographer and activist in South Africa. At a tender age Nyamza knew that, her physical body would bring both prejudice and prestige to her career of choice as a dancer and physical performing artist. She is trained in a variety of styles of dance and is known for challenging traditional standards. All of Nyamza’s work is based on her own life experiences as a black woman born by a mother who became a victim of violent rape and murder, raised by a grandmother who was a domestic worker and educated under an apartheid system.

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