24 — 28.05.2024

Jeremy Nedd & Impilo Mapantsula Basel-Johannesburg

blue nile to the galaxy around olodumare

dance — premiere

Le Jacques Franck

Please confirm your attendance with a wheelchair during online reservation or through box officeAccessible for wheelchair users with assistance | English → NL, FR | ⧖ ±1h | €18 / €15

  • On 12 July 2022, NASA published images from the James Webb Telescope of galaxies over 10 billion light years away. While our ability to capture the light of ancient galaxies propels us closer to an idea of futurity, it also serves as a reminder that perhaps we are not as far along as we think. Collaborating again for this new creation, South African collective Impilo Mapantsula and Jeremy Nedd dig deeper into topics that navigate entangled avenues of Black diasporic and Afrofuturist experience. They present their exploration through the lens of Pantsula. This powerful dance form, well known for its high-speed virtuosic footwork, gave voice to an entire generation during Apartheid. Focusing on the improvisational potential of Pantsula’s movement vocabulary in response to the cosmic and spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane and Bheki Mseleku, the performance draws on phenomena found in the cosmos as metaphoric inspiration: from the birth of a galaxy to the death of a star. Connecting the powerful and lyrical jive style of today’s Pantsula while echoing “past” struggles against oppression, the performers contemplate the compression of space and time, and our illusions of progress towards the future.
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You know

The future is a much better guide to the present than the past


You have to know the past to understand the present


If we are to re-imagine our present and imagine our future, we should start by re-imagining our past

Even though

Thinking historically in the present is the only way to then move forward


Disengage from the linearity of past-present-future

When I was younger my dear Aunt Erlene, rest her soul, would drive me to school. And every morning during our drives, there were two constants: we would stop at Dunkin’ Donuts to get her coffee and we would listen to CD 101.9 FM, the local Jazz radio station.

In those younger years of my life (I was around 10 or 11) I don’t know if I could say that I knew what i was listening to on those drives, but I knew if Aunt Erlene was driving me to school we would be stopping at Dunkin’ Donuts and that we would be listening to CD 101.9 FM … she was a dependable constant.

Those rides to school were my first encounters with Jazz and the beginning of a lifelong appreciation for the musical genre.

So I’d like to think, I’m raised on Jazz.

  • temporal distortions
  • frequencies
  • sonic and cosmic

Still appreciating Jazz…

…Fast forward many years down the line, much closer to the constantly fleeting now, I found myself listening to an online lecture and an input from Fred Moten struck me…

“Improvisation is etymologically understood to be connected with not looking ahead, with a kind of movement without foresight… but what if the movement without foresight is not because people are incapable of looking ahead or incapable of planning… what if it’s because what they were always doing was looking back…

this amazing combination of forward movement while looking back…”

(But when looking “back” far into the past represents accelerating towards an idea of futurity, how are we navigating the here and now?)

With my collaborators of Impilo Mapantsula the goal of our work has been an attempt to navigate various entangled avenues of black diasporic experience through the lens of Pantsula.

To bring together conceptual ideas and universes from our respective contexts and histories – me as a Black American and the members of Impilo Mapantsula as Black South Africans – into what I hope is a productive proximity.

  • while looking for links
  • create cracks
  • while creating connections
  • rifts and ruptures
  • fall through the breaks
  • completely break from time as we know it
  • the unknown, the unknowable, and the unexpected

I’ve always been fascinated with the fundamental research and science behind astronomy and cosmology. Just as much as I’ve always been a fan of science fiction, specifically Afrofuturism which could be seen as “just” a science fiction sub-genre, but I choose to articulate it as a liberatory gesture.

Space Is the Place… but to change your reality is not retreating from the world, it’s redefining it.

  • not yet there
  • not there yet
  • but almost approaching
  • but approaching almost

Alice Coltrane (d. 2007) and Bheki Mseleku (d. 2008) were both virtuosic multi-instrumentalists but grounded in piano improvisation, both left behind a formidable catalog of music, both experienced individual tragedy. And both referenced extensively the cosmic in their music.

Is the latter coincidental, or an honest affinity for contemplating the cosmos. Aspirations to be in accord with a felt unknown known that transcends the strife of this world through the sonic.

There is a beautiful story where the two crossed paths at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1977 and Coltrane gifted Mseleku the mouth piece that her deceased husband, Tenor Saxophone legend and one could say the catalyzer of the spiritual Jazz sound John Coltrane, used to record his legendary album, A Love Supreme.

Though there lies much to be explored in both of their biographies, my interest lies in the music that they left behind and how it could serve as a cosmic sonic map to our improvisational practice.

  • do not rely on the idea of a future
  • improvise
  • disengage temporality from the linearity 
  • of past-present-future

lately I find myself searching for reminders, that here on Earth we are just as much a part of all that cosmic and spiritual Jazz longs for. That we too are of the cosmos…

  • insist, assert & affirm peace as a possibility
  • the spacetime of hope…
  • because time has a different rhythm in every different place and passes here differently from there

Jeremy Nedd, April 2024

Presentation: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Kaaitheater, Le Jacques Franck
Concept, choreography: Jeremy Nedd | Performance and choreography: Sicelo Xaba, Sello Modiga, Thomas Motsapi, Bonakele Masethi, Sibongile Mathebula | Technical management and lighting design: Thomas Giger | Set design: Laura Knüsel | Sound design: Fabrizio Di Salvo, Rej Deproc | Costume design: Tara Mabiala | Dramaturgy: Anta Helena Recke
Production: Caroline Froelich - Moin Moin Productions | Coproduction: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Tangente St Pölten, ARSENIC – Centre d’art scénique contemporain, Kampnagel International Summer Festival, Kaserne Basel, SPIELART Theaterfestival

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