Chanting fascinates dancer, choreographer, actor, poet and musician Nhlanhla Mahlangu. It’s no accident that at least six of the pieces he’s worked on have the word “chant” in the title — it represents the primal echo of the voiceless and the powerless, made tangible as art. Mahlangu’s latest creation in this vein is The Workers’ Chant, a site-specific dance work that will open Johannesburg’s 2017 Dance Umbrella festival on Thursday, February 23. “I tend to follow similar themes ... I love the chant motif,” chuckles this performing arts chameleon while discussing his latest “work of chant” at the site where it will be staged — the historic Workers’ Museum in Newtown. A century ago this nondescript building, just next to the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, was a municipal compound that housed migrant workers who were brought in to build the nascent City of Johannesburg. They lived in appalling, slave-like conditions, forced to sleep cheek-by-jowl on concrete bunks in cramped dormitories. ...

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