Moving Into Dance Mophatong. Picture: Supplied
The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) is funding a ground-breaking initiative to empower under-resourced community dancers in three provinces, in partnership with Moving into Dance Mophatong (MIDM).

The six month collaboration is leveraging off MIDM’s high-calibre, skilled professional dancers as well as the company’s second and third year trainees, to channel skills to novice dance groups in the Free State, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga.

Dance facilitators from MIDM are already embedded in these three provinces, for six weeks. There, they are training groups of ten dancers each, facilitating intensive workshops in dance skills, choreography and performance.

The programme will conclude with separate performances in each of the provinces and a joint finale gala performance in Johannesburg at the National School of Arts on Saturday, May 7, at 11am, where all 30 participants will share the stage with MIDM’s professional and trainee dancers.

MIDM dancers Muzi Shili and Oscar Buthelezi. Picture: Mark Wessels

“We are incredibly proud to sponsor this initiative which aims to share dance skills, provide insight into the Afro-fusion dance form and ensure a sustainable appreciation for the art of dance in communities that don’t always have the support they need,” said Sershan Naidoo, of the NLC.

MIDM is using its world-renowned expertise in dance training to make a difference through dance in these smaller communities trying to nurture young dance talent. 

MIDM chief executive, Nadia Virasamy, said this initiative holds true to the company’s development-orientated roots - but also the company’s future focus, which centres on training “dancers of the future” to build a pipeline for the professional company.

MIDM’s founder, Sylvia “Magogo” Glasser, started the organisation in 1978 at the height of apartheid with the intention of bringing together all people - regardless of race - who were passionate about dance, offering dance classes to disadvantaged communities for the first time. The company’s vision has not faltered over the past 38 years.

Glasser’s life’s work centred on training the youth from disadvantaged communities.

“The NLC partnership allows us to uphold this vision and take dance beyond the borders of Gauteng to where the real need is. It also enables us to develop relationships with communities across South Africa and nurture talent,” Virasamy said.

MIDM dancers Muzi Shili and Oscar Buthelezi. Picture: Mark Wessels

“In addition, through this initiative, we are able to give back and share what we have learnt through our international tours. In general we want to develop the dance industry and art in general in South Africa and our collaboration with NLC allows us to do just that,” she added.

The NLC sponsorship of R2million is comprehensive and covers all the costs of the project, including a stipend for the period for all dancers and the community participants. 

It is also funding the costumes, travel logistics, accommodation and the costs for the community. The funding extends to the employment of a community group leader for four months pre-, post- and during the project.   

The ultimate outcome of the six weeks training is a performance. The developing choreographers and dancers will create new work performed by the local community youth groups with the MIDM dancers and presented in local schools, community centres or theatres.

* The provincial performances will be staged on the weekend of April 22 and 23, across all three provinces.