Program Books/Nhlanhla Mahlangu

Nhlanhla Mahlangu

Associate Director | Choral Composer | Performer

An exceptional vocalist, choreographer, composer, theater maker, gravity-defying dancer, and educator Nhlanhla Mahlangu is a graduate in dance teaching at Moving into Dance, Mophatong. Born in Pholapark Squatter Camp in Apartheid South Africa in the late 1970s, Mahlangu started school during the national state of emergency in the1980s. He witnessed first hand the conflicts between the African National Congress, Inkatha Freedom Party, and the “Third Force” of the 1990s. Mahlangu can be described as a generous interdisciplinary collaborator who excels at conjuring original, complex, and contemporary work rooted in traditional forms. In addition to his contemporary dance and musical ingenuity, he is celebrated for his embodiment of isicathamiya, an a cappella-type musical form combining vocals and movement. Mahlangu uses this practice as a way to process the history of South Africa, particularly the plight of migrant workers. These performances look to build social cohesion, heal the wounds of the past, and encourage resilience in the new Democratic South Africa. Mahlangu’s prolific practice is one of interrogation, articulation, development, and research. He has gained recognition for his pivotal collaborations with artists includingWilliam Kentridge (The Head & the Load, SIBYL, Ursonate, The Centre for the Less Good Idea), Robyn Orlin, Richard Cock, Gregory Vuyani Maqoma, Sylvia Glasser, Vincent Mantsoe, Jay Pather, James Ngcobo, Victor Ntoni, and Hugh Masekela, as well as for his work with his Hlabelela Ensemble and Song and Dance Works. Mah­langu is a past winner of the Naledi Award for Best Choreographer, Promax Africa Award 2021 for Best Title Sequence (The Estate), and the 2020 New York Theater and Dance Award for Best Composition and Sound Design. Other honors include recognition from the Danish Arts Foundation’s Committee for Performing Arts for choreography, casting, and co-directing, and a special prize at the Reumert Awards (2020) in Denmark.