“I wanted to put into proximity these two movement histories”: Jeremy Nedd and Impilo Mapantsula

Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, Performing Arts
dancer from Impilo Mapantsula performs How a falling star lit up the purple sky.
© Philip Frowein

Born out of a residency supported by Pro Helvetia, Jeremy Nedd and Impilo Mapantsula reflect on their stellar long-term collaboration.

American-Swiss choreographer Jeremy Nedd and South African Pantsula dance collective Impilo Mapantsula began collaborating during Jeremy’s residency in Johannesburg in 2017. What emerged from this was the critically acclaimed work “The Ecstatic”, which brings together the movement language and histories of Pantsula dance and the praise break from the Black Pentacostal Church. This was followed by “How a falling star lit up the purple sky”. This speculative work reassesses the clichéd notion of the hero from the Western film genre, and explores new stories and myths through the prism of pantsula’s rich culture.

Both pieces have toured extensively in Europe to critical acclaim. In 2022 Pro Helvetia supported a southern Africa tour that included performances at The National Arts Festival in Makhanda (South Africa), Maitisong festival in Gaborone (Botswana) and Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Kigali (Rwanda).

In this video interview by Bubblegum Club created in the context of an editorial residency connected to Pro Helvetia Johannesburg’s programme, Jeremy and the members of Impilo Mapantsula reflect on the origin of their collaboration and intersecting interests, as well as what has shifted through the process.

Six dancers from the Impulo Mapantsula dance group are on stage performing The Ecstatic. The stage is dark with a large black and green fabric background set.
The Ecstatic © Philip Frowein
Seven members of Impilo Mapantsula perform How a falling star lit up the purple sky. The minimal stage design includes a tumbleweed and white sheet.
How a falling star lit up the purple sky © Philip Frowein


Jeremy Nedd (USA) is a choreographer and performer who is based in Basel.

Impilo Mapantsula is a global network of high-level professional dance artists who specialise in pantsula, a South African urban dance form. 

More information

Application deadline for residencies: 1 March 2024

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