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December 2013

End of Year Outing at Ratanga Junction
On Thursday 5th December, 31 Zama students and staff went to Ratanga Junction for their end of year school trip.
This was a trip promised to all students who took their ballet exams from Grade 1 up and did not include the large introductory class. The students were split into two age groups; Leanne and I looked after the seniors with Vuyo and Nomtha taking care of the juniors. Fun was had by all with only two students running off to be sick in the bushes after riding the Congo Queen multiple times!

Zama dancers at Ratanga

November 2013

Exams & Concerts
November was a busy month with ballet exams and two end-of-year concerts on the calendar.
Exams took place on Friday 15th and again on Saturday 16th.  Our examiner this year was the Cape Town City Ballet’s Mervyn Williams. This year all exams were ‘in house’ which means we didn’t enter students to external exams.  The work presented was however RAD syllabus and I’m pleased to report all 79 students passed with average to very high results. 

Merwyn Williams
Cape Town City Ballet’s Mervyn Williams with Zama Dance School’s Leanne Voysey on Friday 15th November, presenting certificates to the 2013 Introductory class. All 45 Intro students passed their one hour dance exam and 33 of them have been selected to be next year’s Grade 1. The others will remain in the Intro class until they’re old enough to begin learning the more complicated RAD Grade syllabus.

On the mornings of the 5th, 7th and 8th of November I had the privilege of examining the students at the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA) in Tokai. CAPA is one of the foremost multi-disciplinary Academy’s for vocational students in South Africa and I would certainly consider it for Zama graduates to one day continue their training to a professional level.

On Friday the 29th and Saturday 30th November, we presented two concerts in our performance space at the school in Gugulethu. The first was a compilation of 2013 dance highlights and was performed for our Chairman Mr Raymond Ackerman, his wife Mrs Wendy Ackerman, our Trustees Freya Griffiths, Melanie Stark and Michael Sizani.
Also present were the Ackerman Foundation staff, Zama teachers and Funders (James Fernie from Uthando South Africa and Charles Maema from Cultural Affairs and Sport – Western Cape Government) as well as parents of our senior students.  This year’s performance featured guest dancers from the Cape Town City Ballet (CTCB). We are hugely grateful to the CTCB’s Keith Mackintosh and Tracy Li for bringing dancers Angela Hansford and Xola Putye through to Zama for their most amazing performances.

Busi Langa, Neige Virgilio and Sibu Sbuda
Former Zama Dance School students Busi Langa, Neige Virgilio and Sibu Sbuda Joined us at
Zama for our end-of-year concert.

The performance was repeated Saturday morning and the Zama performers were invited to come and watch the CTCB dancers from the front, which they thoroughly enjoyed.  This performance, with an added junior Tap number from the Grade 1 students choreographed by Sam Snow was for our students’ friends and family - as well as community members - and was followed by a presentation of their ballet exam certificates. It was well attended by an enthusiastic crowd of over a hundred and the Zama children were thrilled to hear that their Christmas surprise this year is a trip to Ratanga Junction!

Angela & Xola
Cape Town City Ballet guest dancers Angela Hansford & Xola Putye performed the Gypsy Pas de Deux & Coda from Don Quixote act 3 at Zama Dance School on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th November.

Bridging the Gap
For some time, we have been trying to find a way of accessing a social worker for the Zama students. With the assistance of Zama Dance School Trustee Melanie Stark, we have explored many avenues with little or no success. During November we reached out to two of the local primary schools – which make up the majority of our students - as part of the new Bridging the Gap programme. Bridging the Gap is in its early stages and we have so far only met with these two principles, but it is a start and I hope to communicate with more schools in the hope of sharing recourses.

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October 2013

Adele Blank Workshop
South African doyenne of contemporary dance, Adele Blank joined us at the Zama studios alongside students from Sannette van der Mescht’s ballet studio, Dance for Change for an afternoon of class and choreography, which afforded them all the opportunity to work with her and experience her unique teaching and choreographic style. A piece created by Blank on young dancers for Johannesburg’s Market Theatre recently, as well as 2 pieces by Zama’s dance students was later performed in a performance for our local community as well as parents of young students from Dance for Change which is based in Pinelands.  Adele Blank is known for her cutting edge work and for her tireless dedication to the development of South African artistes who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to train formally in dance.  Hundreds of dancers work professionally locally and abroad as a result of Adele’s commitment, encouragement and love of dance. Adele Blank recently launched a trust fund established in her name.

http://abfftrust.co.za/. The trust has been established to afford young emerging dancers who would otherwise not have the means or opportunity for post school training at a dance center of excellence abroad. The time frame for this extraordinary opportunity would be 6 months to a year and the students would then return to South Africa to share their knowledge.

Adele Blank teaching Zama Dance
South African doyenne of contemporary dance, Adele Blank joined us at the Zama studios alongside students from Sannette van der Mescht’s studio, Dance for Change

Guest teacher from the Cape Town City Ballet
Tusile Tenza, from the Cape Town City Ballet joined us for a week in to teach classes. Although not originally from Zama, Tusile is from the area and the children adored him.
Tusile came to us as part of an agreement between Zama Dance School, Cape Town City Ballet and the Amy Biehl Foundation where we would share recourses. Through this partnership, Cape Town City Ballet agreed to perform 2 numbers at our end of year concert on Friday 29th November.

Tusile Tenza
Tusile Tenza with the Cape Town City Ballet’s Keith Mackintosh and Zama dance School students

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September 2013

Zama Nomination
Zama is nominated for an award by the Western Cape Government/Cultural Affairs and Sport, under the Arts and Culture Contribution to the Performing Arts (Dance) section. We will hopefully hear from them after their adjudication in early 2014.

Our new portable ballet Barres arrived this month and will make their debut in the ballet studio after the school half term break. Our older semi portable barres were fixed to the dance floor around the sides of our expansive dance studio. Over the past 13 years they have wriggled around by enthusiastic students and lately began damaging the expensive dance floor. So the old barres will be stored away and we will begin using our new portable barres which will also enhance our teaching abilities by bringing the students closer to the teacher who works the sound system which is in a fixed position. The barres can be brought closer to the front.

Ballet Barres
Zama’s new portable Ballet Barres make a welcomed new addition to the studio

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Theatre Dance Association (TDA) Eisteddfod
We’ve been working furiously hard this month in preparation for the 2013 Eisteddfod at the Sea Point Civic Centre. The eisteddfod comes once a year - and is without a doubt the highlight of our students’ year.  Apart from making new friends and catching–up with old, they get to perform and compete against students from other Cape Town based dance schools. This year there were over 80 schools competing and around 900 children entering in different artistic fields. Zama entered the set solo dance category and three group dance sections with excellent results.


Little Miss Muffet 7 to 8 yr old Set Solo
Monica Dumakude 98% - 1st place - Diploma
Tennis Dance 9 – 10yr old Set Solo
Tshepang Shumba 96.50% - Diploma
Buntu Anta 89.79% - Diploma
Zinzi Buthelezi 86.64% - Honours
Doll Dance 10 – 11 yr old Set Solo
Amohelang Rooiland 97.33% - Diploma
Chuma Nkumanda 95.49% - Diploma
Zikhona Papiyana 95.33% - Diploma
Asanda Mehana 91.81% - Diploma
Boys classical Solo 13 – 14yr old
Thimna Sitokisi 96.83% - Diploma
Lwazi Saphula 92.82% - Diploma
Tap - Any Age Group
93.81% Diploma
Bad Things – Any Age Group
87.45% Diploma
Friends and Other People
100% - Diploma


Bad Things
Choreographed for Zama by British guest teacher Emma Jordan won first place medal in the groups section.
Monica Dumakude was awarded a “We Saw You” medal for her excellent Little Miss Muffett
Tshepang Shumba was awarded R250 for her “Eye Catching” Tennis Dance
Amohelang Rooiland was awarded a “Most Promising Junior” medal for her Doll Dance
Thimna Sitokisi was awarded R500 for his solo in the classical ballet section

The LEAP programme visits Zama Dance School
During the month of June, six professional dancers from America visited Zama Dance School where they taught ballet classes, repertory and choreographed for 60 of our excited young dance students.  The six American dancers who enrolled in the LEAP programme (Liberal Education for the Arts Professionals), a BA Degree course offered at Saint Mary’s College in California, travelled half way across the world to spend two exciting weeks with the Zama children.

Through their teaching at Zama and time spent with the teaching faculty, the professional dancers learnt about the principles inherent in the study of dance, including how self-discipline and perseverance plays an important role in the lives of these young people living in Cape Town’s townships.

They learnt too that having a career in dance may only apply to a small percentage of Zama students, but that the majority of children exposed to dance benefit hugely when it comes to confidence, dedication, punctuality and self-worth. Their hard work came together on Friday afternoon when Zama hosted and presented what had been learnt in a studio concert attended by the families and friends of the students. It was once again presented at the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA) in Tokai the following day. CAPA is recognized as one of the leading dance academies in the Western Cape, if not South Africa so it was a truly special occasion for Zama dancers to perform alongside CAPA’s counter parts who had also taken part in the LEAP workshop.

Keelan Whitmore
Keelan Whitmore from LINES Ballet Company, San Francisco puts
Zama Dance School students through their paces.

Mantu Jakavula
June also saw former Zama Dance School student Mantu Jakavula return and conduct a week long workshop with the students. On a short break between contracts – he agreed to spend some of his time with us at the school which we were naturally thrilled about.  It’s so important to have former students return and teach as well as mentor. It’s not always possible, taking into account their busy professional timetables, but when they do return and share their knowledge, our students see first-hand that they can also have careers on stage - if they desire and are prepared to work for it.

Mantu Jakavula
Mantu Jakavula spent the past year performing for Costa Cruise Lines in
the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf - but is excited to be back teaching at Zama.

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May 2013
Ballet at Artscape
On the 10th of May we took a small group of our senior dancers to Artscape Opera House to see a performance of the Cape Town City Ballet’s Camille.  Our very own ballet teacher, Leanne Voysey was a guest artist in this season and performed the role of Anina, Camille’s faithful servant.
We were also treated to a backstage pass where we met the two leading artists Lisa Vieira and Daniel Szybkoski.

Backstage with Cape Town City Ballet
Backstage pass. Zama students meet
Cape Town City Ballet’s Lisa Vierira and Daniel Szybkoski

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March 2013
Emma Louise Jordan
During the second week of March, British guest teacher and choreographer Emma Louise Jordan arrived from Freiberg, Germany.  She taught our senior students for three weeks and produced a new piece for the school called Bad Things. Based on a Cowboy & Vampire theme and danced to the theme tune for the popular TV series True Blood, the students thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  We look forward to entering it at the Eisteddfod later this year.

Emma Louise Jordan
Guest choreographer, Emma Louise Jordan returns home much
to the dismay of us all at Zama, but more so to the students in her piece.

So You Think You Can Dance
Fifteen Zama students were once again sponsored by Theatre Dance Association to participate in this year’s So You Think You Can Dance convention held at Reddam House in Tokai. The guest teachers, all winners or runners-up from the 2012 season of the hit American version of this show were Chehon, Tiffany and Melanie.

So you think you can dance
Melanie, from So You Think You Can Dance takes the junior class
at the dance convention held at Reddam House, Tokai.

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February 2013
Zama Graduates Moving Forward
18 year olds Candice Dongwe and Sonia Yabo, both long time students of Zama, were accepted by two of Cape Town’s finest tertiary establishments.
Candice Dongwe secured a place at the UCT School of Dance where she has begun her three year Dance Teacher’s Diploma and Degree course.
We believe Candice will enjoy a wonderful career on stage one day and we look forward to following her journey. We hope she will return to her roots here at Zama and help motivate the next generation as others have before her.
Sonia Yabo auditioned for the Waterfront Theatre School this month and was immediately accepted.  The Waterfront Theatre School has a very high success rate of general theatre employment, particularly in the musical world so wish Sonia all the best and look forward to seeing her on stage one day.

Zama Dance School would like to acknowledge Mrs Wendy Ackerman who has supplied invaluable financial support so that both Candice and Sonia can move forward towards their chosen careers.

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January 2013
Zama opened its doors for 2013 registration on the 16th January, which was once again co-ordinated by the school’s secretary, Vuyokazi Rubuxa.  The results of our refreshed partnership with the Amy Biehl Foundation last year were plain to see this year when 26 new Grade 1 dancers from the Nomlinganiselo Primary School in New Cross Roads enrolled for classes.

Zama School Bus
The Zama school bus, driven by Andrew Petersen is now used daily
to fetch and drop our new Grade 1’s as well as shop for the feeding scheme.

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