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Monday, July 1, 2013


(Zinhle Gumede. Pic by Val Adamson)

Jay Pather, Artistic Director of Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre, pays tribute to the late Zinhle Gumede.

“I am shocked by the untimely death of the wonderful Zinhle, not only a great artist but a beautiful person.

Zinhle Gumede was a dancer, choreographer and a teacher par excellence. The words talented and committed are overused so they do not do enough justice to Zinhle. Yet she epitomized a natural and great talent for dance and choreography and was committed to its development within herself and others.

Zinhle was a committed professional from the day I first met her as a trainee in the Siwela Sonke programme in 1994. I was astounded by the professionalism, dedication and sheer talent, which exploded out of her tiny frame.

In performance, that tiny frame belied a fiery spirit that flew way beyond the footlights of the largest theatres and touched audiences all over the world. She was consistently passionate, uncompromising of standards despite the difficult contexts she worked in and aspired to be and produce the best.

That she has left us leaves a hole in our hearts because she was so lovable and friendly and kind. More than this, though, she leaves a hole in a dance world that continues to struggle to survive. She brought the essential ingredients to take this art form far in the KwaZulu Natal region and the country and offer something of great value to the world.

We will miss her terribly but we hope that the force of her talent will reverberate for years to come so that future generations may get a glimpse of this extraordinary artist. – Jay Pather