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Monday, September 15, 2014


(Julia Wilson, Zinhle Nzama & Jabu Siphika. Pic by Val Adamson)

Three Durban dancers were honoured recently with the Eric Shabalala Dance Champion Award at the closing night of the 16th Jomba Contemporary Dance Experience.

The Award was given to jointly to Jabu Siphika, Julia Wilson and Zinhle Nzama for the work they do with Flatfoot Dance Company’s numerous dance development and education programmes. It is in honour of the memory of Eric Mshengu Shabalala who tragically passed away in 2011.

Shabalala he was a local dancer, choreographer, teacher and one of the founding dancers of the Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre in Durban. In a fitting tribute, the CCA and the Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience Dance Festival has set up the annual award to honour some of KwaZulu-Natal’s stalwart dancers and dance teachers.

The award is given not only in recognition of performance or choreographic excellence, but more in honour of dance practitioners who have worked tirelessly to help grow a culture of dance and dance training in Durban – who have supported the growth of dance as an art form at both community and regional level.

In selecting recipients, the Jomba! committee look for those gifted individuals who have gone above and beyond – often without funding – to dedicate themselves to the cultural industry and to put KZN dancers and dance on the national and international map. Past recipients of this prestigious award include Jarryd Watson who was the first recipient in 2011 for his work with the Wentworth Dance Movement, Sifiso ‘Kitsona’ Khumalo in 2012 for his dedicated work in growing the Flatfoot Dance Company’s dance education and development programmes, as well as developing his own community’s dance programme in Clermont.

Last year, in 2013, the award was given jointly to Byron ‘Bizzo’ Tifflin and Preston ‘Kayzo’ Kyd who, often having to operate in a situation with no funding, and these two dancers still manage to grow a community of dancers and their BBoy dance crew, the 031 Floor Assassins, is testament to this.

“This year the Centre for Creative Arts and JOMBA! are delighted to honour another set of very special dance practitioners,” said Tiny Mungwe Project Manager for the CCA in the citation for the award. “Jabu Siphika, Julia Wilson and Zinhle Nzama have systematically elevated not only their own lives through dance but the lives of the many young dancers they work within the numerous dance development and education programmes they run. They are especially honoured for the work they are doing with young girls and women and their use of dance to address a society fraught with difficult gender politics that often makes the lives of young women so challenging. All three of these women have shown determination and commitment to the growth of dance in Durban and KZN and we thank them for their contributions to Jomba!, the dance community.”

JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) with valuable support from the eThekwini Municipality. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is a special project of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter.

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