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Dance International
Written by: Trish
14/11/2011

Over the past thirteen years the Dance Project has focused on delivering Dance skills and training to members of the community who would not otherwise have access to these skills. Classes are offered to all ages ranging from 3 years old to 43 years old. The main intention is to be inclusive, even learners from the Dominican School for the Deaf have attended classes. Finance, lack of skills and age has never excluded anybody from taking part in the project and individuals of all ages have attended for different reasons.

The fundamental objective is to bring skills and opportunities to a community that was previously denied access due to a lack of facilities and financial constraints and to provide recreational opportunities for those with little experience, while providing professional training and preparation for talented youth and individuals who wish to be developed to their fullest potential. Shows, Eisteddfods, Festivals, Competitions, performances form part of the annual programme providing on stage experience that any dancer needs to acquire excellence, stage craft skills and the essential ability to work as a team member.

The Dance Projects efforts over the past thirteen years have focused strongly on developing and enhancing the ultimate employability of the talented individual with potential though he/she may have lacked training and experience. During this time three students have been accepted into the UCT dance degree course and three members were accepted into Jazzart as fulltime professional dancers.

Dance is a wonderfully recreational discipline, developing a healthy body and mind. It can convert unfocused energy in the youth into a creative team building process, so keeping the unemployed youth, and those who return home from school each afternoon, off the streets and away from destructive influences.

Dance is a vibrant and unique expression of life in every culture. The three founders of the Project draw on their varied cultural backgrounds to enrich learners and the Project exposes its students to the different cultural forms found in dance, with particular focus and reference to those found in this country.

Aims and Objectives

The project aims
to extend the experience of its students and specifically:

1. It strives to serve all young age groups in the wider community in the field of dance.
2. To keep costs to a minimum.
3. It offers a variety of experience through exposure to Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, Tap, Hip-Hop, Pantsula, gumboot, Afrojazz, etc.
4. It prepares learners with professional dance training methods always giving formal warm-ups and correct stretching exercises before each class.
5. It prepares students for public performances, Eisteddfods, Festivals, competitions
6. It encourages its members to take the knowledge and experiences gained from this venture and return them to the community

Achievements

The Dance Project
prides itself in - over the past 13 years - providing professional training in various dance forms, ranging from modern jazz, hip hop, tap, contemporary and other South African dance forms, as well as providing a platform to expand into the other performing arts drama and song.

All of this can be seen through the success of full-on stage productions such as:

WOZA CAPE TOWN which performed at Artscape, the Baxter Theatre and also at the National Arts Festival 2006 in Grahamstown. Woza Cape Town currently runs at Theatre In The District for the tourists.

GOING PLACES which enjoyed 2 successful seasons at the Masque Theatre.

GODSPELL THE MUSICAL- which had a season in the Theatre in The District in February 2007 and was invited to perform at The Masque Theatre in April 2007. With repeat seasons in 2008 an 2009.

The Dance Project team has achieved the goal of training the dancer to be an all round performer, proficient not only in dance but also in drama and song.

Trish and Nikki have worked for over 25 years in community development. They are both qualified modern teachers, and Nikki has extensive stage experience with professional dance companies. Trish is also qualified in Tap, Ballet and has been part of the team that designed Matric Dance curriculum for the Education Department. She often adjudicates festivals. They have produced extensive shows including childrens theatre at Artscape, schools productions and musicals, while preparing students for eisteddfods, dance festivals and national hip hop competitions at the same time.

Together with Theatre in The District management, they have created Woza Cape Town, a home-grown on-going musical production aimed at the tourism industry, which is performed by members from The Dance Project.

The success of The Dance Project community programme in the Wynberg area has led to the expansion and opening of the exciting new Dance Centre in the historic Chapel Street, District Six. Professional tuition is offered in all dance forms as well as an exposure to drama and song. Attention is focused on creating an all round performer, and striving for excellence in a focused, creative environment.

Challenges

Pressures are mounting for the project to expand its influence to further communities. This has cost implications as far as facilities and appropriate teachers are concerned. To increase its ability to offer opportunities it needs to expand further to provide opportunities for the inclusion of more teachers, trainers and choreographers. The projects managers are also the teachers and are fully employed elsewhere (one is a teacher, one is a PA and another is a Director for a Trust company). Trish has given up her fulltime teaching post so she can devote more time to expanding the community project.

To manage this growth there are four major challenges facing the Project:

1. Fulltime manager/teacher. It is essential that one of the partners leaves their job to be available to devote time and energy to managing this growth on a fulltime basis. This of course requires constant financial income.

2. Venue. A dedicated venue is needed where more than one class can take place at a time. The Project has developed the capacity to deliver, more particularly at the peak times when young and teenage learners are available. Three classes could easily run at the same time particularly on a weekend, but halls are also heavily used and in demand at these times, limiting access when one would want to actively target and involve learners in a recreational activity rather than have them wandering around the streets aimlessly.

3. Transport. Currently learners are drawn from all areas across the Cape Flats. Venues close to transport routes are the more costly with prime rentals. Transport is required to collect some learners from central terminuses and carry them to a less costly placed venue and to return them to their point of transport. Transport is also needed for dance teams to travel to areas to perform for publicity, experience and to generate income though performance. This usually involves a large number of females travelling to various venues in the evenings, and transport safety is an issue.

4. Fees. The most pressing of all of these needs is for support those who struggle to pay fees, battle to find transport, experience despair when they cannot afford to contribute to their own costs - be they entrance fees, costumes or their basic dance wear. A fund established to support these needs would make the project self-sustainable.

For more information:
Office: 021 705 6202 (t) / 021 705 5674 (f)
Trish: 083 357 4037
Nikki: 082 407 1800
Mercia: 071 275 9097

trish@thedanceproject.co.za

_______________________________________________________________________________________


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