Developing a new generation of dancers

In a continuous effort to develop a new generation of dancers, dance teachers and choreographers as part of Vuyani Dance Theatre’s (VDT) founding objectives, nine young people have begun their year as trainees at VDT. Vuyani continues to use dance in a provocative and ambitious way as a vehicle to create sustainable arts jobs.

     The training programme is developed to cover the scope of dance skills, technique and choreography. It aims to give young people from diverse backgrounds an opportunity to excel in dance and to develop them to become professionals who will later contribute to the creative economy. VDT has expanded its contemporary dance vocabulary of movement and is forever altering the scope of contemporary dance by rooting its artistic works and training programme in contemporary, social, political and psychological contexts, which gives the organisation an edge in the creative industry. This approach ensures that each year’s class of trainees has an understanding of dance techniques and an appreciation of other art forms along with further key learning points; arts administration, creativity and improvisation.

Vuyani Dancer
PHOTOS: Creative Space Media

     2018’s class of trainees have really challenged themselves. Accelerating their development in the company even further, seven of the trainees have been cast in Vuyani’s Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero, which was presented at this year’s Sibiu International Theatre Festival in Romania (15 and 16 June). This month they will perform at Artscape Theatre in Cape Town from 6 to 8 July and at the Vrystaat Kunstefees on 9 July.
     ‘The training programme has been a challenging journey that has assisted me in tapping into parts of myself as a dancer, performer and aspiring choreographer. The training programme has exposed me to an array of teachers and classes, which has played a major role in assisting me to improve my body awareness and embodiment. Furthermore, Vuyani demands you to be present, to own and master any opportunity you are given to dance or perform be it in class or on stage, this creates a consistency and better work ethic. This was the first time I was exposed to the arts and entertainment industry, especially the dance industry, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have seen it in all its colours and forms at Vuyani Dance Theatre,’ shares Smangaliso Ngwenya, VDT training alumni.

Vuyani Dancer
PHOTOS: Creative Space Media

     The training programme ensures that VDT has a consistent supply of well-trained dancers who continue to build Vuyani’s exceptional international reputation as a leading African Contemporary dance company. Vuyani is rooted in developing young talent, and trainees also give of their time to impart the knowledge they soak up to the school-going generation through the Outreach Programme. The objective of this programme is to reach out to community organisations and primary schools with a keen focus on those that include an arts and culture programme in their curriculum. Each year’s trainees are expected to create a three-to-five-minute dance piece to showcase as part of their assessment, to demonstrate what they have learnt during their training period.
     Vuyani has successfully achieved its inception mandate, having trained over 60 young dancers who have gone on to further their careers. Some have since made their mark as freelance dancers, dance teachers and choreographers, while others have become full-time VDT company members.