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Artwork by Lex Trickett

ONE – creative and spiritual hybridity

I had a conversation with multifaceted creatives and Vela Souls co-founders Yana Seidl and Nyaniso Dzedze about how they conjoined their creative and spiritual journeys. Working together with Tribe of Doris and Drama for Life, Yana and Nyaniso bring their performance piece ONE to life as part of the British Council Connect ZA Arts Programme for 2017.

Nyaniso began his artistic journey at the Wits School of Arts. Since then he has been part of a number of well-known productions including the movie Hear Me Move, the TV show Ashes to Ashes, the theatre productions Shape and James Ngcobo’s Thirst, as well as interned at the dance company Forgotten Angle. In 2012 he was again invited to be part of Thirst which toured various cities. The final stop for this tour, Manchester, saw Yana and Nyaniso’s paths cross. Quite fittingly the arts tied them together romantically, creatively and spiritually. While Yana grew up in the UK, a lot of time was spent travelling with her family. This exposure to multiple ways of being influenced her perception of human expression and cultures. At school she realized she wanted to be a dance choreographer, a camera woman and something like a councilor, but better. As her creative journey has unfolded she has seen her herself come full circle, with her childhood vision being given flesh.

In 2016 the couple took part in an emotional clearing journey called Spiral. Given the impact that they felt it had on their lives they travelled to Australia to become Spiral practitioners. Shortly after completing their training their creative practices and spiritual journeys conjoined, and Vela Souls was born. ‘Vela’ is an isiXhosa word which when translated to English means ‘to appear’. “We want people to step into themselves,” Nyaniso explains, “We want souls to appear in their entirety.”. This shift in their lives and creative practices centres the permeation of positive energetic frequencies to invite those in the presence of their work to open up to themselves and to the world. “Art heals people. It is just that now we are putting a greater, more conscious intention to heal,” Nyaniso explains. “We advocate a holistic approach to creativity,” Yana adds. The creation of their performance piece ONE under Vela Souls stems from this understanding of performance as more than entertainment, but a vehicle for healing.

ONE is centred around mirror theory – the idea that everything we see and experience is a reflection of who we are and how we feel. “The idea that we are all different expressions of the same thing,” Yana elaborates. ONE is a performance that represents that unity. The show features Nyaniso as the main character who turns to the mirror whenever he has to deal with the outside world – the mirror symbolizing the “oneness” in the universe. The show also includes six dancers on stage performing choreography by Yana and Liz Collier in a film projection who embody The Woman in the Wind – an entity who represents the energy of creativity. The music created by Owl, Faisal Salah and Thembinkosi Mavimbela complement these elements, making the experience whole. Welcoming the audience to experience the hybrid between the creative and the holistic, to witness the vulnerability of the performers, the show becomes a moment of complete openness through voice, film and movement.

The show will be running from the 20th -22nd of April at the Wits Amphitheatre.


‘This article forms part of content created for the British Council Connect ZA 2017 Programme. To find out more about the programme click here.’

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