November was a busy month at Zama with internal ballet exams being held and two end-of-year studio concert performances. All students passed Zama’s internal ballet exams this year with the majority receiving marks between 80% & 90%. The first of our two concerts held at the school was for Mr & Mrs Ackerman, our Trustees, funders and friends. The second was for the general public, but mostly friends and family of our students. Both performances were received well and the school packed to the rafters.
For two of our young male students, exam time came early this year. Thimna Sitokisi and Lwazi Saphula, both 13 years old, took the external Royal Academy of Dance’s Intermediate Foundation exam this month.
The beginning of September saw the end of the TDA Eisteddfod and Zama was invited to dance in the Finals, against other winning groups. Zama’s group dance, Beautiful Things, choreographed by Leanne Voysey, competed for top spot and came in 1st with Gold. We also presented our Productions group, Mamelani. This came in 2nd and was awarded Silver. Another highlight was 13 year Thimna Sitokisi receiving the award for best junior dancer in the whole competition. This year teachers were recognised for their work and Andrew Warth walked away with the TDA Fabulous Trophy.
“We at the TDA would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Andrew Warth on winning the “TDA FABULOUS” trophy – a Teachers award - at this year’s Eisteddfod of the Performing Arts. This year it went to you in recognition of your involvement, dedication and commitment to the ZAMA dancers. Your genuine concern and love for the kids is so evident and there could not be a more worthy winner of this coveted trophy. Well done to your contribution to dance in general – to ensuring that it is enjoyed by all. We at the TDA acknowledge the huge part that you play in promoting and keeping dance alive in our disadvantaged areas and amongst our less fortunate communities – we are fully aware of the impact you have on the developing youth in the Western Cape. Di Fincham; Janice Tighe; Denise Morrison”
Zama also visited the Teplov ballet shoe factory in Somerset West this month which the children loved. 30 students were transported in 2 kombi’s and a car. In their new dance uniforms which we ordered from First Edition Clothing and their new shoes, the children looked smart for end of year ballet exams.
August is Eisteddfod month. This year there were 89 schools competing and well over 1000 children took part. Zama entered the solo dance category and two group dance sections.
Zama’s solo dancers all walked away with High Merits and Honours. Thimna – the only boy in that section - was awarded Diploma, the highest mark possible and was then also awarded the Best Overall Junior Dancer award.
The new Zama school bus is now operational and the Zama team has a new member, our driver Mr Andrew Peterson.
Zama students took part in the Theatre Dance Association’s Inspirational Workshop which was held at the UCT School of Dance. With over a 100 participants from dance studios from across the Western Cape, this year’s theme was Musicals, Acting, Singing and Dancing.
New students from the Amy Biehl Foundation started this month, increasing our numbers to 90. They are bussed in by the Amy Biehl Foundation on Friday afternoons for our popular Introductory Class.
The new Zama Dance School website was launched. It contains lots of interesting information on Zama’s 25 yr history, including how Mr Ackerman and the school’s founder, Arlene Westergaard teamed up in the early days.
Zama’s Candice Dongwe auditioned for the UCT School of Dance and was accepted.
Leanne and I attended a 3 day syllabus training course held by Royal Academy of Dance (RAD). This ensures Zama continues to provide a level of teaching in keeping with international standards.
We received and laid our new dance mats this month.
Ballet mats (or dance mats), are an essential piece of studio equipment. They prevent injuries incurred through slipping and falling and also prolong the life of the wooden floor below. Ballet shoes last twice as long on the smoother mat surface than on the rough and sometimes splintery wooden floors
The entire school was invited to a matinee performance of the Cape Town City Ballet’s Giselle. It was a beautiful performance danced to orchestra and the students were treated to a special behind-the-scenes tour after the show. Not only did they see what it looks like back stage during a huge production like Giselle, but they were also introduced to leading dancers, Megan Swart and Thomas Thorne.
New ballet teacher Leanne Voysey joined the Zama teaching team and former student Mamela Nyamza returned as guest contemporary dance teacher and choreographer. Khulile Mbizela passed his RAD Intermediate Ballet exam in November of 2011 with a MERIT, and we were extremely proud to award him his certificate in front of the other students. Khulile is a shining example of one of Zama’s many success stories in the community of Gugulethu and its surrounds. He not only exceeded our expectations, but his own as well by passing this extremely complicated and challenging exam. He’s a positive role model to all the students at the school, proving that with hard work and determination, one can achieve anything.
January 2012, new ballet teacher Leanne Voysey
joined the Zama Dance School teaching team
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