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Tuesday, July 30, 2013


The Indian Ocean and the Love Dance photographic exhibition were the stunning backdrops for the Durban Dance Awards 2013 last weekend.

Presented by KZN DanceLink, the annual awards were held this year at the Old Pump House at Dairy Beach, in association with eThekwini Municipality’s Arts and Culture department and the opening of acclaimed arts photographer Val Adamson’s retrospective dance photography exhibition.

Said KZN DanceLink chairman Lynn Maree: “KZN DanceLink wants to honour and acknowledge the ways in which our dancers and choreographers are feeding this city and each other – be it by exploring another dance style, finding a new way to move or to tell our stories, working with music or interacting physically and spiritually with the space and the people around them.”

The Dancer of the Year award went to Julia Wilson of Flatfoot Dance Company for her “extraordinary growth in range and depth, both as a technician and as a performer whose presence on stage is totally compelling”. Although first and foremost a dancer, Wilson is an all-rounder with interests in most aspects of the performing arts, including design and production. She joined Flatfoot as a full time professional dancer and dance educator last year, the same year she received the Breakthrough/Newcomer award.

Choreographer of the Year went to Sifiso Kweyama, for his work Ngichaze/Define with Flatfoot Dance Company that moved and inspired all who watched as to how dance can speak”. Kweyama is a highly respected and talented dance teacher, lecturer, choreographer and leader in the South African dance community. His interest in dance began in Durban dance while attending UKUSA Arts Project at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and in 2004 he established his own Okhela Dance Theatre.

The Breakthrough/Newcomer award went to Leagan Peffer for her performances in worlds apart. Peffer is an Mzanzi graduate from 2011 and is now a member of KZN Dance Theatre based at the Playhouse.

A new award, The Ubuntu Award for Dance in KZN, went to Jarryd Watson for his work with Dance Movement “for inspiring his dancers to have confidence, humour, skill, timing and verve”.

“Dancing saved my life,” says this award-winning hip-hop dancer. Growing up in Wentworth, a township south of Durban, Watson had a choice between a career in dance or becoming a gang member. He chose wisely and today is Chairman and Dance Director of the Wentworth Arts and Culture Organisation. He has also worked as a hip-hop choreographer and instructor for various dance companies across South Africa, including Flatfoot Dance Company, Dance Movement and Maverick Events. He has danced in Bollywood movies and in numerous corporate and entertainment events. In 2012 he was part of the ensemble who danced in Liz Lea’s a free mind at The Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

The final award, the Abalolongi Award for services to dance in KwaZulu-Natal, went to Minette de Klerk, whose dance academy has trained many young dancers. De Klerk moved to Durban when she was 12 and started ballet because an orthopaedic surgeon suggested, in her words, “ballet would be a better option to strengthen her unfortunate legs and feet”. Ballet was taught at her primary school, and so, age 5, she began. Her first ballet teacher, Yvonne Ostermeyer, instilled in de Klerk her love of dance and of performance. 

“It is her love for children, her teaching skills, and that love of dance and of performance, that has made her the special person she is,” said Maree “Complete dedication and complete interest in making things great for everyone: her dancers, her teachers, her fellow lovers of dance: Minette selflessly gives and gives and gives.”

The ceremony was opened by acclaimed storyteller and poet Gcina Mhlope, who also presented the awards.

Adamson’s Love Dance exhibition is open at the Pump House daily from 10h00 to 16h00 until August 11.