50 Years of Dance

JAZZART Dance Theatre

JAZZART Dance Theatre celebrates its half century with a festival of dance, including their international premiere performance of ‘Requiem: Journeys of the Soul’ at the Leeds Grand Theatre UK.

Jazzart Dance Theatre will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion the contemporary dance company is embarking on an ambitious year of performances and cultural activity under the banner: ‘50 Years of Dance.’ These events will showcase the company’s rich history, its influential cultural reach and celebrate the contributions of the many dancers, choreographers, teachers, and leaders who have built and continue to take the organisation to new heights.

Since its founding in 1973, Jazzart has made a significant contribution to arts & culture, heritage, youth development and job creation and has been at the forefront of the dance industry, pushing the boundaries of African contemporary dance and exploring the rich culture of the country.

Marcus Desando, Chairperson of the Board says of this celebration: “In this important milestone year for Jazzart, we believe it is an ideal time to showcase our cultural offering as a longstanding dance company and training institution that has successfully grown and contributed to dance for half a century.  Dance is an exceptional expression of self, circumstance and narrative and is probably more important now than it has ever been, in a time where the world is needing creative outlets to ‘let go’.”

Echoing Desando’s comments, Managing Director of the NPO, Averil Barry-Hughes remarked on the achievements, saying: “I am enormously proud of what this company has accomplished over its five decades, especially the incredible social impact it has had on youth across the country.  Jazzart is positive proof that passion is a perquisite for dance, not body shape, gender, or age.   I am not only looking forward to this year’s celebrations, but also the future as we continue to grow a love of dance and spread our message to youth in communities across the country.”

Diarise the performances:

The ‘50 years of Dance’ celebratory programme of activity will start with an exciting international production & world premiere of ‘Requiem: Journeys of the Soul’ choreographed by Jazzart’s Artistic Director Dane Hurst, in collaboration with Phoenix Dance Theatre and Opera North.  It features two new dance works set to the classical music masterpiece,’ Requiem’ by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a new composition ‘After Tears’ by celebrated South African composer Neo Muyanga. The production in its full capacity will feature 16 dancers with 40 opera singers plus live orchestra and will have its world premiere at the Leeds Grand Theatre 26 May to 4 June 2023.

The company dancers then return to South Africa to continue the celebration back home at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda from 30 June – 2 July.  And still on the home front, the new cohort of trainees from the Three-year Dance Training programme led by newly appointed Training Manager, Celeste Botha, will showcase their talent at an in-studio performance from 4 July – 8 July. Avid Friends of Jazzart are encouraged to join in experiencing the start of the journey of these young artists.  This evening of dance will showcase ‘a day in the life of a Jazzart trainee dancer’ and includes a new work by previous Artistic Director, Sifiso Kweyama.

Jazzart will continue to tour performances for the remainder of the year culminating in the premiere of Jazzart Dance Theatre’s Meraki Festival – Meraki (v.) to do something with soul, creativity, or love; to leave a piece and essence of yourself in your work. The festival will run from 5 October – 14 October at Artscape with a host of celebrated and multi award-winning local and national choreographers, dancers and companies including Cape Town Opera, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and UK-based Phoenix Dance Theatre in the remounting of Requiem, Journeys of the Soul.

The Jazzart anniversary celebration promises to be a true celebration of dance across South Africa and beyond with an exciting, poignant, and thought-provoking programme in celebration of the power and longevity of contemporary dance.