UJ hosts international dance residency

Lakin Morgan-Baatjies

Top Luxembourg choreographer, Hannah Ma, brings her love for South Africa to the University of Johannesburg for a week-long development residency and performance on 21 March at the Con Cowan Theatre.

  UJ Arts & Culture looks forward to welcoming contemporary choreographer and dancer Hannah Ma and development team Sebastian Purfürst and Sergio Mel to the UJ Arts Centre and Con Cowan Theatre stage this March.

  Hannah Ma will present an intensive workshop from 17–20 March with 30 professional dancers based in Gauteng. The residency will culminate in a performance on 21 March at 19:30. This engagement will lead to the selection of up to four South African dancers to join Hannah Ma Dance in Luxembourg for the premiere of ONDA/Wave in 2021.

  Ma is a German-Chinese choreographer and founder/director of Hannah Ma Dance and HAN SúN. She was educated at the Conservatory in Vienna and the John-Cranko School, Stuttgart and the University of Hagen in Germany. She was a scholarship student at Kirov Ballet / St Petersburg and Hong Kong Ballet. She has won several ballet competitions such as ÖTR- Contest in Vienna and the International Ballet Competitions in Györ, Hungary and Bologna, Italy.

  She has worked with Theater Freiburg (GER), Museumsquatier (A), Theater Trier (DE) and the Expo in Shanghai (CHN) among others and as a freelance dancer all over the world. Her focus lies on contemporary rituals and the translation of archaic roots within our society. She teaches the method Speaking Body, an improvisation method she created from the base of contemporary and classical dance, yoga and acting methods. Hannah also studies cultural sciences with focus on philosophy.

  She describes her partnership with UJ Arts & Culture as a critical bridge between Europe and Africa, and considers UJ Arts & Culture as a home.

  “UJ Arts & Culture has a great spirit and I love the people and what it stands for. It’s open and contemporary and a kind of melting pot in the world, and being able to share that makes it a very strong place with its own unique vibration. I think I am able to find the hidden treasures within me in South Africa,” Ma adds.

  The 2021 work ONDA/Wave that Ma is currently creating is based on research by German philosopher Walter Benjamin who explored the connection between the digital world and real world. In the 1970s he wrote an essay on art and its reproduction in the time of digitalisation with respect to the rise of photography and film and the possibilities of a mechanical reproduction having an aura.

  “I always want to refer to the political situation in the world and how we can solve our problems, and how to overcome our prejudices, colonisation and colonial thinking. We will also work on the relationship of human body and water. Besides the political, I want to find out what the essential conditions are of being a human and I think that is something that is the same with everyone in all cultures, countries and political systems; finding out how we can find our roots, our heritage and our ancestors,” Ma says.

   The Hannah Ma International Dance Residency will run from 17–20 March culminating in a development performance, which will take place on 21 March at 19:30 at the UJ Con Cowan Theatre. Tickets are free of charge and available at

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