national Arts Festival Banner

Thursday, February 25, 2016


(Ntombi Gasa. Pic by Val Adamson)

Ntombi Gasa has recently been appointed Interim Artistic Director of Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre in Durban.

The decision was taken with a unanimous vote by the company’s board of directors and is made with the intention to make her appointment permanent.

Gasa is a choreographer, dancer and dance teacher who has performed and travelled extensively with Siwela Sonke. A founding member of Siwela Sonke, she serves as a director on the company’s board and heads Siwela Sonke’s Training and Development Programmes. She began her dance career in 1994 at the Natal Playhouse Youth Development Programme under the directorship of Alfred Hinkel and then Jay Pather. Gasa obtained a Dance in Education certificate from the University of KwaZulu Natal in 2000.

Gasa has been an active member of the Dance Alliance and has directed numerous youth programmes. Throughout her career, Gasa has valued working with both young children and the elderly. She currently runs classes and teaches students from 6 years to 75 years. Her strong focus on development has seen her bringing dance and dance education to various communities in KwaZulu Natal, both rural and urban, from KwaMachai in the South Coast to Kwa Mashu.

She has performed internationally and her CV is highly impressive. Apart from numerous other awards, in 1999 she was nominated as Most Promising Female Contemporary Dancer in Durban, and in 2009 she won the Special Abalongi Award for Leadership in Dance in KwaZulu Natal, an award she shared with long time collaborator, Neliswa Rushualang.

With an international reputation for extraordinary performance work, Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre has always been rooted in KwaZulu Natal with a clear focus on nurturing the exceptional talent found in the province. Having started her career in Siwela Sonke’s first training company, this appointment for Gasa reflects that mandate for development. Through this restructuring, Jay Pather has elected to fulfil the role of Executive Artistic Director and will continue to work with Ntombi in leading Siwela Sonke in exciting new directions.

Last year saw great growth for Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre thanks to a grant by the National Lotteries Commission. From the YouthDanceForce Beachfront performance for Siwela Sonke’s Youth Development programmes in Jan 2015, the company premiered Jay Pather’s new work rite at the 2015 Dance Umbrella as a Site-Specific performance at the Museum of African Design in Johannesburg.

Shortly thereafter, the company conducted dance workshops in Mbombela in collaboration with the Africa Centre, while continuing to present exciting corporate performances for events such as the Diakonia Good Friday Service at the Durban ICC.

June and July saw Siwela Sonke claim public spaces as performances venues as the five week season of Cityscapes, Re-routed was performed throughout Durban’s CBD and Beach Promenade. When the JOMBA Contemporary Dance Experience took place in Durban in August, Siwela was proud to be invited to once again present Pather’s rite as a stage performance at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre to rave review.

Another highlight for the company came in October with a season commissioned by the South African State Theatre to perform Jay Pather’s Qaphela Caesar! in Pretoria. Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre was then invited to Cape Town for the first ever Cape Town International Dance Festival (CTIDF) and then to Stellenbosch for Spier Wine Estate’s Festival of White Light. With performances in Gugulethu, Artscape Opera and Artscape Plaza, the CTIDF saw Sbusiso Gantsa’s Viewpoints and an extract of Jay Pather’s Qaphela Caesar! performed to thrilled audiences. The final performance of the year saw the company travelling to Stellenbosch to perform Jay Pather’s multicultural dance spectacle, From Before at Spier’s annual Festival of White Light. 

If 2015 is any indication, Siwela Sonke can expect to grow from strength to strength by beginning their 2016 Artistic Programme with EDGE: Season of Emerging Choreographers. A space for new choreographic identities performed at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in February 2016 made possible through support from the National Lotteries Commission and a grant from the National Arts Council. EDGE explored and celebrated new identities, new design, and new thoughts using dance and visual imagery that offer a multi-layered, crisp and vivid view of an emerging South Africa.