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Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Standard Bank Young Artist Winner For Dance 2011

34-year old multiple award-winning dancer, choreographer, dance teacher, passionate development activist and motivational speaker Mamela Nyamza is the 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner for Dance.

“It’s such a great feeling to be recognised in your country,” said Nyamza after hearing that she had won the award. ”Now I can travel the world with confidence, and carry the flag with me everywhere I go. There are no mistakes in life. Dreams are for real. I have dreamt about winning this award, and now it’s a reality.”

Nyamza matriculated from Fezeka High School in Gugulethu, Cape Town, where she also attended the ZAMA Dance School, under the royal Academy of Dance.

“Growing up in Gugulethu with a huge family did not give me a choice but to love dancing. There is music and sound, all day long, and even in the streets the noise became the music,” said Nyamza. ”I used my body as the instrument to react to all forms of sound, whether it be playing, crying, or watching all sorts of things that one can imagine happened in Gugulethu in the 80’s” she added.

She went on to study a National Diploma in Ballet through the Pretoria Technikon Arts Faculty. In 1998 she completed a one year fellowship at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Centre, and also participated in intensive choreographic workshops at the Vienna International Dance festival. In 2005 she attended African Dance workshops in Soweto with Jamaine Acogny, and in 1997 she had Ballet Training with Martin Schonberg through the Pact Dance Company. Most recently in 2009, she did a major intensive course in dance directing through London’s prestigious Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

“No-one warned me that it would be this difficult to be a dancer in South Africa, and there weren’t many black female dancers back in the days who could have advised me on how to make it in this profession,” said Nyamza. “So I juggled all of this on my own, not knowing what I was getting myself into. It is by no mistake that I am in the industry, it was meant for me. It actually chose me!” she said.

Since graduating she has been a member of the State Theatre Dance Company, lectured dance at the Pretoria Dance Technikon, The Dance Factory and Jazzart Dance Theatre, and was resident choreographer, teacher and Vice Principal of the Zama Dance School in 2007. From 2002 until 2005 she was also involved with various commercial, modelling and corporate projects, including being part of the Face of Woolworths Campaign in 2004, and her ongoing work with the Free flight Dance Company since 2002. She has also presented dance workshops in Brazil and Mexico.

The multi-award winning Nyamza is currently project coordinator for the University of Stellenbosch's Project Move 1524, to educate and demonstrate through dance movement therapy on issues relating to HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and drug abuse. Managing all of this outreach work amidst an intense performance schedule, Nyamza has been part of various original grand-scale musical casts, including The Lion King in Denhaag, Netherlands in 2004 and We Will Rock You in South Africa in 2006.

In 2008, Nyamza choreographed and performed her own piece, HATCH at On Broadway, the Out The Box Festival and Baxter Dance Festival. She also took the piece to the Netherlands, where she performed it in shelters for abused women. She also performed this piece at the World Population Foundation. She did informal studio performances of the work in Brazil and Vienna, as well as at selected schools in the Eastern Cape, Durban and Cape Town and at the South African Domestic Violence conference in Johannesburg. During 2008, she performed in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha for the World's Aids Day, collaborating with Free Flight Dance Company and Dance For All. She was also selected as the South African representative invited to present Afro - fusion in Los Angeles, USA at the Superstars of Dance competition. Her work, Kutheni, was commissioned by FNB.

In 2009 she performed at the FNB Dance Umbrella and also took HATCH to Mexico for Foro Performatica. She attended the 2009 Young & Bright Artist's Conference in Cape Town, and was a commissioned artist for the Baxter Dance Festival.

Even after many years of experience in the South African performing arts industry, Nyamza is thankful for the opportunities to express her artistic views in the way that she wants to. “I now have my own repertoire, and I am so proud of my own achievements in the industry, thankful for all of those who believed in my art. I am ready to fly with the award, and take it to places where only the sky will stop me,” said the dynamic mother, artist and activist.