Mamela Nyamza showcases a new generation of dance

It’s the new dawn for dance in Mzansi as an award-winning dancer and choreographer Mamela Nyamza takes over the rights of staging of an impactful dance platform.

Nyamza’s acquisition and rebranding of the now defunct annual contemporary dance festival Dance Umbrella will see Dance Umbrella Africa showcasing its set of work from March 31to April 7 at the State Theatre Complex in Pretoria.

“After it closed down, I thought it would be unfair for the new generation of artists not to get the opportunity to showcase their work on such a grand platform. So I took the brand, relaunched it with the new generation.

“With this upcoming show, I have also taken risks of not using well-known artists but getting these stars, who I label the new legends, and creating a totally fresh space for fresh content,” Nyamza said.

The show is curated under the theme “Figure-ring the state of dance in Africa”, and will feature local and the world’s most prolific dancers and choreographers including Lulu Mlangeni, Sonia Radebe, Julia Burnham, Phumlani Nyanga, Dirk Badenhorst, German-Austrian Helge Letonja, Madagascar’s Gaby Saranouffi, and works from dance companies such as Vuyani Dance Theatre and Moving into Dance Mophatong.

“I chose that theme because it speaks to where we are, figuring out who we are in our new home. With the new dancers coming on board, our new audience and for myself too as the new curator, I am figuring myself out with this new baby I have to raise. So we are playing in a space of growth that allows fresh ideas,” she said.

About the artists associated with the festival, Sonja Radebe says the return of the show is an important part as she has formed part of the festival for years either as a choreographer or dancer. 

“This dance festival is important because it incorporates a wide range of dance genres and with its dance record and accolades, it is one that encourages role models within the dance sector but also people who are advocating for innovative performances.

“It is also home to many powerful dancers who are advocating for visibility of the arts within South Africa and across all races. So I am excited that the brand lives on, through new powerful management in Nyamza.”

Radebe will be sharing the stage with three other industry powerhouses, including Mlangeni, in a collaborated dance piece.

“These are dancers from different contemporary companies, with a wide range of experience and knowledge and also a fresh artistic input.

“We will be using this platform to reflect on issues that matter to us, not just as dancers but as black female individuals who are constantly fighting endless societal battles.” 

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Amanda Maliba.