Soweto-born Gregory Vuyani Maqoma took up dance in the late 1980s as a refuge from the political tensions in the township, and quickly began excelling. He embarked on his formal dance training at Moving Into Dance Mophatong in 1990 where, in 2002, he would return to serve a five-year stint as associate artistic director.
Today, Maqoma is an internationally renowned dancer, choreographer, teacher, director and scriptwriter. He has also distinguished himself for his artistic collaborations, including working with British-based choreographer Akram Khan and the London Sinfonietta, as well as South African fashion designer David Tlale, singer-songwriter Simphiwe Dana and theatre maker Brett Bailey.
He counts director James Ngcobo among his frequent collaborators, creating the choreography for award-winning theatre productions such as The Lion and the Jewel, The Hill, Crazy for Jazz, Thirst, Master Harold and the Boys, Sunjata and Songs of Migration with Hugh Masekela. Maqoma also worked with Ngcobo on the ANC centenary celebration musical Tshihumbudzo in Bloemfontein. Another career highlight was serving as head choreographer for the FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Concert in Soweto.
He founded Vuyani Dance Theatre (now grown to include Vuyani Dance Company (Pty) Ltd) in 1999, and several works in the company repertoire have earned accolades and international acclaim. This includes FNB Vita Choreographer of the Year in 1999, 2001 and 2002 for Rhythm 1.2.3, Rhythm Blues and Southern Comfort respectively. Maqoma is well known for his dance trilogies, including the Beautiful trilogy (for which he won the Gauteng MEC Award in 2006 and 2007).
Maqoma received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance in 2002. He was a finalist in the Daimler Chrysler Choreography Award in 2002 and in the Rolex Mentorship Programme in 2003. In 2011 he won the Dance Manyano Choreographer of the Decade Dance Award, and received the 2012 Tunkie Award for elevating the standard and visibility of dance in South Africa.
An inspirational leader and teacher as well as a creative force, Maqoma has served as associate artistic director of Moving Into Dance Mophatong, the Dance Umbrella festival and the Afro-Vibes festival in the Netherlands and the UK. He is currently serving on the dance committee of the National Arts Festival.
Maqoma has taught at various universities in Africa, America and Europe, including the University of California, in addition to taking part in several international residencies. He has created repertoire for Moving into Dance Mophatong, Jazzart Contemporary Dance Theatre, the South African Ballet Theatre and the Cape Academy of Performing Arts, among others.