Dance guru shares skills with youngsters

Dance category finalists during the intensive workshop under the mentorship of seasoned choreographer Simphiwe Mba. The awards ceremony will take place on June 30.
Dance category finalists during the intensive workshop under the mentorship of seasoned choreographer Simphiwe Mba. The awards ceremony will take place on June 30.
Image: SUPPLIED

An award-winning dancer and choreographer has spent many years sharing his skills with budding young dancers in East London — and unearthing some top talent in the process.

Simphiwe Mba, 43, one of the top choreographers in the province, started dancing in 1990 at Arts to Border Youth Dance Theatre.

Since then he has travelled overseas with the Eastern Cape Ensemble, which was championed by former premier Nosimo Balindlela when she was the arts MEC.

“In 1993 I worked with Johannesburg Dance Foundation, directed by Collen Hlatshwayo, as a choreographer.

“I also worked at Vuyani Dance Theatre at the Grahamstown Dance Umdudo as an assistant choreographer in 1994; [and] in the dance extravaganza of East London Technical College, which is now known as Buffalo City College,” Mba said.

In 1999, he worked at the Guild Theatre as a dance teacher, choreographer, percussionist and performer for 10 years.

During that time Mba initiated productions such Thina Bantu, a dance piece about the Xhosa people in the 18th  century; Myth of the Dove, which celebrated different birds’ unique way of living, with an underlying message of peace and unity in diversity; Dare to Dance, an entertainment piece; and Dula Dula, which was about the lifestyle of train commuters.

He also did an industrial theatre piece with Eskom in 2004, travelling across the province to raise awareness of the dangers of izinyoka.

“In 2005, I registered an NPO, Kusile Youth Dance Theatre, where I used weekends to teach dance to young people around my community.

“I discovered 15 talented students. I managed to secure their first big performance at an international dance festival at the FNB Vita Dance Umbrella festival in Johannesburg.”

We specialise in dance, music, poetry and drama

In 2009 he registered Masivuyisane Cultural Ensemble, which encourages children from primary schools in Mdantsane to audition for the annual Vela Sikubone School Arts festival.

“Masivuyisane Cultural Ensemble has designed programmes to accommodate everyone, specifically unemployed youth and schoolchildren, giving them opportunities to exhibit their talents and receive recognition for their efforts.

“There are more than 60 members in the organisation, aged 12 to 30.

“We specialise in dance, music, poetry and drama,” Mba said.

He said the organisation aimed to promote, develop and educate community members about their culture and heritage.

“The project was founded to promote and encourage a broader participation in the performing arts industry through networking, partnership, audience development, recruiting, talent unearthing, competence-building and event co-ordination to stimulate the sector’s potential to contribute to job creation and economic growth,” Mba said.

Many of his proteges are now choreographers and dance teachers in the province, some at schools around East London

His manager, Samora Gxala, also a close friend, commends the hard work and determination Mba puts into his art.

“Many of his proteges are now choreographers and dance teachers in the province, some at schools around East London.

“Phumlani Nyanga is now a top dancer in Vuyani Dance Theatre in Johannesburg.

“Mziyanda Mancam dances with the Jazz Art Dance Company in Cape Town and Nomaxabiso Magadla is a dance teacher in Port Elizabeth, all because of Mba’s work,” Gxala said.

The dance guru offers weekend classes at Mdantsane NU15 community hall. He can be reached on 078-411-3650.

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