Donna Spencer on Vincent Mantsoe

Vincent small

Welcome Back, Vincent!  In honor of Black History month, internationally acclaimed choreographer and performer Vincent Mantsoe returns to the Firehall from February 11th -14th .  Vincent first performed on the Firehall stage in 2001, with three solo pieces created under the title, Meetlo, which in the Sesotho language means ‘traditions’.   This amazing work was Vancouver’s first introduction to the power of his work and audiences loved it. We invited him back in 2005 and once again his work was mesmerizing.  His ability to blend global dance forms while connecting to his heritage and honor his past in a manner that suffused the work with potent spiritual power brought audiences to their feet.

We are delighted that Firehall audiences will get the chance to see two solos, NTU// and Skwatta as part of his pan-Canadian tour to Montreal, Toronto, Peterborough and Ottawa’s National Arts Centre.  NTU// springs from the desire to embody the essence of personhood while Skwatta addresses the squalid hopelessness of life in the informal settings of the camps of South Africa’s townships.  Both are animated by Vincent’s connection to the Soweto culture of his childhood and are influenced by lessons taught by his mother and aunt, all ‘sangomas’ or traditional healers.

Vincent, who now lives in France with his wife and two children, is a artist with a unique talent to blend traditional African, contemporary Western, martial and Asian dance forms in his creations of artistic works that resonant in a meaningful way with his audiences.

– Donna Spencer, Artistic Producer, Firehall Arts Centre


“when Danceworks curator Mimi Beck writes that Vincent Mantsoe … is a dancer of “breathtaking virtuosity,” she’s just stating the facts. He’s incredible.” Mooney on Theatre, Toronto

“Mantsoe’s stage charisma is huge. Though relatively short and solidly built, he can move with gentle, feline grace or explode in a frenzy of flashing feet and combative arms.” – Toronto Star

NTU and Skwatta are on at the Firehall Arts Centre from February 11 – 14. Click here for more info.

Image – Vincent Mantsoe, credit Meinrad Heck.

Contemplation on Land-Research | Donna Spencer


If you are a consumer of world news, you will be familiar with how much we hear about the conflict within Israel between the Palestinians and the Jewish people over the rights to land and to a lesser degree about the conflicts within different factions within these communities around beliefs and the changing world.   But seldom do we hear about the impact of this conflict or tension on the inner lives of the individuals who live in this starkly beautiful country.  Nor do we consider how it impacts their connection to land, their connections to each other and their isolation within themselves serving to feed eventually into the big picture conflict.   After watching audiences at the Firehall respond to Israeli choreographer, Arkadi Zaides’ Land-Research and seeing how moved they were by his integration of the individual experiences of his dancers; by the sound score created by their voices in front of a landscape created by the powerful photography of Yuval Tebol and the video design of Daniel Landau, it reminded me the arts plays such an important role in helping us understand each other. How do we know what is going on within each other if not through our individual physical or creative actions?  And how do we connect with each other if not through those same actions whether it be through conversations, playing sports, dancing, singing or simply telling a story?   Mr. Zaides has created a powerful work that resonates visually and emotionally with audiences and the stillness within the work asks them to consider the next breath, the next possibility.    This work opens the window for viewers from outside Israel to gain a better understanding – a more meaningful connection with the individuals who live there.  The work has only two more performances in Vancouver, April 26 & 27, before the company returns to Israel and for those of you who ponder the challenges of achieving a more peaceful world Land-Research asks you to consider the sociology of those impacted by political and religious tensions and divisions.