Khumbula Dance Theater is the newest project by Thamsanqa Hlatywayo,
Matome Some, and Gideon Mlungisi Bendile. These three performers
have collaborated in numerous works, including performances with the Uzulu
Dance Theater. Uzulu performed in the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival
in 1984 and 1986.
Thamsanqa Hlatywayo learned traditional dance and music growing
up in South Africa. A performer, choreographer, drummer and a cappella
singer, he enjoys sharing aspects of South African culture with people of
other national and ethnic backgrounds. Thamsanqa was Co-founder, Artistic
Director, and performer with Uzulu Dance Theater of South Africa, and
has choreographed works for Dimensions Dance Theater. He performed with
the successful Broadway musical SARAFINA, which received 5 nominations
for TONY Awards. While touring the USA, and Canada, he taught master classes
in New York, Washington D.C. and Tampa. Thamsanqa continues to teach children
and adults in Oakland and Berkeley public schools, colleges and universities.
Gideon Mlungisi Bendile was born in the southwestern township
(Soweto) of Johannesburg, South Africa, where he first began his career
performing in local musical shows and traveling around South Africa. In
1974, he was invited to join a hit musical show from South Africa called
Ipi Intombi, which traveled extensively - including Paris,
London, New York on Broadway, Scandanavia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand,
and the Far East. In 1975, Ipi Intombi won Best Foreign Musical
in the Song of Europe Awards and was performed for the Queen of England,
ending up with a long run in Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, having formed
a group called Amazulu, Gideon was interviewed by Dinah Shore, toured
with Redd Fox, appeared with Sammy Davis Jr. and Gregory Hines, performed
for the Jerry Lee Lewis Telethon, and was featured as a guest artist with
Siegfried and Roy.
In Northern California he formed a band called Zulu Spear, performing
both nationally and internationally. He worked with the George Coates
Performance Works in San Francisco, and with The Africans are Coming
in Oakland. Funded by the CAC as an Artist in Residence with the Arts
in Education program, he often works with his daughter Ayanda.
Matome Somo was born into the Mapedi people who were famous for
playing drums and pan pipes. Matome grew up around both traditional and
western musical instruments such as drums, guitars, banjos, and flutes.
One of his names, Jitterbug, came about from his love of dancing as a
After Matome finished school he moved to Johannesburg, where he became
interested in a cappella singing and performed with bands such as Dikosha
and Sipho Mabuse's Harare Band. His theater experience includes
Lulu-Wena Ifindo, and the world famous Ipi-Ntombi, which
toured extensively throughout Europe and the U.S. This brought Matome
to Houston where he collaborated with colleagues to create the Zulu Dance
Theater, a show focusing on the politics and apartheid of South Africa.
Zulu Dance Theater catalyzed his move to California where he eventually
settled in the Bay Area.
Matome taught dance and drums in school and dance studios in the Bay
Area, later forming his own band called Zulu Warriors. He then went
to perform with Zulu Spear. While his drumming and dancing tends
to be traditional, Matome's musical interests are heavily influenced
Rock and Roll and Blues. Matome has performed with George Coates,
Amandla Poets, and shared the stage with many headliners such
Grateful Dead, Santana, the Neville Brothers, Hugh Masekela, Ladysmith
Black Mambazo, King Sunny Ade, and a number of Jazz greats.