national Arts Festival Banner

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Pic: Winners of KZN DanceLink Durban Dance Awards were (from left) Ntombi Gasa (Abalalongi Award for services to dance), Ngcebo Nzama (Newcomer/Breakthrough Dancer), Liselle Sproull (Dancer of the Year) and Vusi Makanya (Choreographer of the Year)

Achievement of dancers and choreographers over the last year honoured.

The achievement of dancers and choreographers over the last year was honoured on Sunday night when KZN DanceLink presented its annual Durban Dance Awards.

The celebration which was held at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre after the last performance of Flatfoot Dance Company’s season entitled Six, was bitter sweet.

While honouring the hard work and dedication of the dance community, it was also KZN DanceLink’s final “project” pending the outcome of funding applications.

Announcing the awards, board member Peter Taylor thanked the National Lotteries Board for its contribution which, unfortunately, was now exhausted.

“For the past three years we have been able to operate various projects thanks to the three-year funding secured from Lottery,” said Taylor. “This grant is now exhausted and tonight’s event is the last ‘project’ that DanceLink is able to stage for the time being. After tonight we press the pause button. While this might seem a little gloomy, we do await the outcome of an application to Lottery and if this is successful we will release the pause button.”

On a lighter note, the worthy winner of the award for Choreographer of the Year was Vusi Makanya (Flatfoot Dance Company) for his works, Dynamite (Imbumba 2008), I’m planted but not Wanted (Jomba 2007) and Begin at the End (Ukukhula Komdanso 2008).

Dancer of the Year was awarded to Liselle Sproull for “stealing the attention of the audience, aficionados and their friends” for her performance in New Classics at the Playhouse.

The award for Breakthrough / Newcomer Dancer went to Ngcebo Nzama who was singled out from a strong list of nominees for his “sheer professionalism of continuing to dance, perform, improvise and stay calm on the stage when his fellow dancer injured his knee and had to leave the stage during a performance of Ukukhula Komdanso”.

Ntombi Gasa and Neliswa Rushualang of Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre received the Abalolongi Award, given for services to dance in KwaZulu-Natal for “their indomitable, nothing-is-too-much trouble sweeping spectrum of work in rural, urban and township communities; their training and contribution to high profile events; moving effortlessly from doing all the ironing to performing in difficult, cutting-edge work; spanning the traditional, the conservative and daring to dream of new better worlds”.

Certificates were also handed out to participants in three DanceLink projects which took place in the past 18 months – the Choreographic Laboratory, the Professional Development Course and Giyani Lusha.

KZN DanceLink chair Lynn Maree said: “Acknowledging the contribution of the old guard to the development and support of the new generation, these awards honour the hard work and dedication of the dance community. Dance in Durban used to include The Playhouse Dance Company… then Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre. When The Playhouse Company stopped funding and housing its own companies the city experienced a sudden flurry of a growth in dance companies and in the training of dancers for the professional stage.

“Sadly some of that energy has been lost to Durban, but some of the old guard is still here, doing great stuff. There is Flatfoot Dance Company and Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre has trained a new group of people. There are new young dancers and choreographers beginning to find their voices. One could almost say there is a fresh start, but it builds on the old, and there is a strong continuity and a genuine wish from those who were involved ten years ago to support that fresh start.”