Near the end of the 19th century, a group of South African singers embarked on a tour of the UK and the US under the stage name “The African (Native) Choir,” hoping to raise funds to build a school in the city of Kimberley. Though the tour was profitable (and even included an audience with Queen Victoria), proof of the Choir’s performances was thought forever lost—until glass plates of the singers emerged in 2014, 125 years later.
The internationally acclaimed South African dancer and choreographer Gregory Maqoma revisits this forgotten moment in history to cathartic and uplifting effect in his BAM debut. Combining dance, song, and storytelling, the piece vividly reimagines the tour using a chorus of 16 singers and a quartet of musicians, all led by Maqoma himself. As the choir confronts racism at every turn, Maqoma and co-creator Thuthuka Sibisi use prejudice as a creative engine for a theatrical experience that pulses with hard truths and infinite creativity.