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Friday, March 20, 2015


(KZN DanceLink’s Peter Taylor congratulates the winners of Durban Dance Awards 2015, from left, Jabu Siphika, Clare Craighead & Monde Marafane. Absent: Christopher Kindo and Sandile Mkhize who were not able to attend the awards. Pic by Val Adamson)

With dance facing huge funding and support challenges, it is no small miracle that Durban still produces some of the finest dancers and choreographers in the country.
To celebrate and honour those who bravely continue to ply their trade – and inspire and entertain audiences - in very difficult circumstances, KwaZulu-Natal Dance Link presented its Durban Dance Awards 2015 recently.

The awards were made after Giyani Lusha 2015, an exuberant and exciting programme of 10 new works by the city’s aspiring young dancers at the Stable Theatre, in the heart of the city.

Choreographer of the Year: Incorporating the last 18 months of contemporary dance works presented in Durban, the Choreographer of the Year award went to Christopher Kindo for his haunting piece, Song for Zinhle, at the SA Women’s Arts Festival 2013 at the Playhouse.

Kindo studied at the University of Cape Town Ballet School and then performed and trained at the Boston Ballet Company and Topf  Dance Company in Boston, Massachusetts. He was a founding member of Jazzart and danced and choreographed for the then Napac, Pact and the State Theatre in Johannesburg and Free Flight Dance Company. He has taught and choreographed for The Cape Youth Dance Company, The Soweto Dance Theatre, Ballet theatre Africa, Dance for All and the Playhouse Theatre. He is the associate director Free Flight Dance Company with Adele Blank and founder and director of Full Circle Dance Centre and The Tercia Kindo Dance Project in the Cape. He is also a prolific freelance choreographer having worked with several dance companies, television commercials, musicals and movies.

The other nominees were Sifiso Khumalo for Ugubhu and Lliane Loots for Hope and The Inheritance of Loss.

Breakthrough/Newcomer: In the Breakthrough/Newcomer Award category there was only one nomination and the award went to Monde Marafane. Coming from a street style hip hop background, Marafane won many competitions with his former crew, Encore. His dance vocabulary expanded while training at Break-Thru Dance company from 2010 to 2013 under Taryn Makaab Smit.

 In 2013 he joined the Playhouse Dance Residency, further strengthening his technique. He worked with choreographers such as Casey Swales and Mark Hawkins.

Dancer of the Year (Male): Dancer of the Year (male) went to Sandile Mkhize, a member of the Playhouse Dance Residency. Mkhize was exposed to the world of performance while participating in Bright Sparks, a development projects run by Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre, led by dance teacher Nelly Rushualang. He fell in love with the contemporary dance style, so when the opportunity came to train at Siwela Sonke, he grabbed the opportunity. He trained for three years under Jay Pather and has since performed locally and abroad – most notably with Musa Hlatswayo in a piece called Umthombi in Paris and Mali. He is currently performing Rite of Spring at the Dance Umbrella Festival in Johannesburg.

The other nominees were Sifiso Khumalo and Pavishen Paideya.

Dancer of the Year (Female): Dancer of the Year (female) went to Flatfoot Dance Company’s Jabu Siphika. who joined Flatfoot Dance Company in 2007 after training with Phenduka Dance Theatre’s trainee /training programme, where she also spent some time as a senior member of Phenduka Dance Theatre. She participated in Choreolab 2007 – a developmental initiative of the Jomba, Contemporary Dance Experience. She also assists with facilitation on Flatfoot’s dance development projects in KwaMashu, Umlazi and in the rural area of Ndumo. She is the coordinator of  Flatfoot’s Siyakhula Dance Project (KwaMashu) and is now the Projects Officer overseeing all the company’s urban- based dance education programmes.

She won a first place in choreography for the National Creative Arts Youth Festival in KwaZulu-Natal in the group dance competition in 2000 and in 2010 she joined Flatfoot in Cameroon performing at a festival called Abok I Ngoma. She has also been with the company to Holland on a performance and teaching exchange with Introdans Interactive in Arnhem. In January 2011, Siphika and her Siyakhula Dance Project were invited to be part of a cultural exchange in Zimbabwe by the youth arts organisation, Chipawo. She took a one-year sabbatical from Flatfoot during 2012 where she worked with Gregory Maqoma and his Johannesburg based Vuyani Dance Theatre.

The other nominees were Rachel Abrahams and Julia Hosmer.

Abalalongi Award: The special Abalalongi Award for services to dance in KwaZulu-Natal went to a worthy Clare Craighead for her very generous and creative contribution to the Durban dance community.  Craighead was introduced to Flatfoot Dance Company in 1999 when a student at the then University of Natal, Durban. Her professional, dance-related career began in 2002 as stage manager for Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre. Since then, she has worked in a technical capacity with local dance companies Flatfoot Dance Company, FFFDC and Phenduka Dance Theatre. In 2003 she became company manager for Flatfoot and has remained in that role until today. She is also the festival manager for Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience.

Craighead has frequently choreographed for the Flatfoot Training Programme, participated as a dance educator in Flatfoot’s dance education programmes, both urban and rural, and in the company’s schools’ workshop programme. She has been a part-time lecturer and tutor in the Drama and Performances Studies Programmes at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and recently became head of Live Performance at the Durban campus of Afda, the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance. She is also a talented graphic designer and is responsible for Flatfoot’s print design work and for their website.

KZN DanceLink chairman Suria Govender congratulated the awardees for their considerable achievements and also thanked the National Arts Council of South Africa for its continued support.