The Centre for Creative Arts and the Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience Dance Festival honoured acclaimed Durban dancer, choreographer and dance educator Musa Hlatshwayo, with the Eric Shabalala Dance Champion Award.
The award, now in its 6th year, is in memory of Eric Mshengu Shabalala who tragically passed away in 2011. He was a local dancer, choreographer, teacher and one of the founding dancers of the Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre in Durban. In a fitting tribute, the Centre for Creative Arts and Jomba! each year honour KwaZulu-Natal’s stalwart dancers and dance teachers – in the name of Eric Shabalala.
Says artistic director of Jomba!, Lliane Loots: “This award is given not only in recognition of performance or choreographic excellence, but also more profoundly and more importantly it is given in recognition of dance practitioners who have worked tirelessly to help grow a culture of dance and dance training in Durban – who have supported the growth of dance as an art form at both community and regional level.
“The selection of award winners for this prize, by the Jomba! Committee, goes beyond just the selection of the best dancer but of those who also make the biggest social contribution to their communities. It looks at those who go beyond the call of duty, often with little or no funding, to put KZN dancers on the international map. This is the spirit of Eric Shabalala that we see living and continuing in Musa’s work.”
Hlatshwayo is a multi-award winning young choreographer, performer, educator, voice artist with experience in the performing arts and community development.
He completed BA in media and communications as well as drama and performance studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and trained with the Flatfoot student company for two years, during which time he received an opportunity to go and train at the Copenhagen School of Modern Dance.
He returned to UKZN to complete his BA Honours and a dance in education postgraduate certificate which he completed while working as one of the founding members of Flatfoot Dance Company in 2003.
He has also worked with the Fantastic Fish Dance Company, Portia Mashigo Dance Theatre, Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre, Phenduka Dance Theatre, First Physical Theatre Company, the Handsfree Puppetry Company, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company and a list of other independent theatre directors, choreographers and producers.
Hlatshwayo is passionate about the role of contemporary dance in a developing communities and the role it plays in fostering dialogue across socio-political divides. He has been seen in various educational institutions locally and abroad as a tutor, guest lecturer, course coordinator and external examiner in the arts departments.
The festival closes tonight (Sunday, September 4) at 7.30pm at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on UKZN’s Howard College campus in Durban with the African premiere of acclaimed dancer/choreograper Vincent Mantsoe’s work KonKoriti. The work will also be performed at the Wits Theatre on September 8.
Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) with support from the eThekwini Municipality.