Mamela Nyamza

GROUNDED - Mamela Nyamza (South Africa)

GROUNDED - Mamela Nyamza - Photo by Ayanda Msiza
GROUNDED - Mamela Nyamza - Photo by Ayanda Msiza

Choreography, direction and performance by Mamela Nyamza

Featured Artist – Amkele Mandla

Digital and Videography by katty van denberghe  

Videography and Photography by Ayanda Msiza

Technical Management (Stage & Lighting) by Wilhelm Disbergen

Sponsor/funder of GROUNDED – Asphalt Festival gGmbH, Dusseldorf, Germany

The South African tour is made possible with the support of the city of Geneva, the canton of Geneva,

Pro Helvetia – Zürich and Pro Helvetia – Johannesburg.

Mamela Nyamza was invited by the Festival Theater der Welt 2021 in Dusseldorf, Germany, to collaborate on a performance arts project called “Dramaturgy for a Conference”, a concept originated by the Argentine Artist, Matias Umpierrez. As one of the four artists chosen from the four continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, and Americas), Mamela – from South Africa – has based this work on the Project’s main objective of “reflecting on the contemporary narratives and on those dramaturgical structures that could be behind the political discourses of the time – an exercise that proposes a conference/dialogue/speech and a performance between a contemporary thinker/activist/artist and artists/audience”.


Playing on double meanings of the word, Nyamza’s GROUNDED offers both up simultaneously. Positively, grounded can mean, stability, reliability, a moral compass and self-esteem. Negatively, grounded can mean, punishment, confinement, and segregation/apartness. In this work, performed with her son Amkele Mandla, Nyamza offers us a look into her South Africa where democracy superficially seems to be in a working condition, but actually has small cracks not easy to see. Nyamza looks at these cracks and asks where and when they started – how far back in history do we go?

About Mamela Nyamza

Choreographer and art activist, Mamela Nyamza, is trained in ballet and received further training at the Alvin Ailey New York School of Dance as a visiting scholar. This is where Nyamza began to tackle this classical genre of dance by deconstructing the traditional logic of ballet. Some of her ground-breaking works are, The Dying Swan (1998); Hatched (2007) – set against patriarchy, and the The Meal (2012) – against elitist ballet, are autobiographical works that trample on the norms of the classics. Her other works include BLACK PRIVILEGE – against injustices of women; and newest work, PEST CONTROL (2020) – looking at the miscarriage of justice within formalized arts institutions. She was the 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist for DANCE (NAF), and in 2016 was awarded the IMBOKODO Award for Dance. In 2022, Nyamza received an award from Burkina Faso Festival International de Danse de Ouagadougou (FIDO 2022), the Marraines FIDO 2022. In June 2022, Mamela was appointed as a curator for the Artistic Programme: Africa, by the Staatstheatre Mainz in Germany, for the Tanz Kongress 22.