October 5th: Hip Hop Classes Began
We have been a huge fan of hip hop teacher Taryn van Zyl's work for many years, and were very excited when she agreed to create a new work for us which will be completed in early 2018. Hip Hop is a new style for Leanne and I who have never hip hopped in our lives. (I was once asked to do the Running Man in the musical Queen at the Opera and was immediately removed from the number when they realized I couldn’t). Luckily this was not the case with our performance team who took to it like little ducklings to water. Lets hope Leanne or I don’t ever have to rehearse it alone!
November 1st: Dancers Love Dogs Artscape Opera House
We were once again asked to perform at the prestigious event, Dancers Love Dogs to do our part in the cause to save and protect the lives of dogs on the township streets.
Dear Brigitte and the entire Dancers Love Dogs family, thank you for another epic production and for inviting Zama Dance School to be part of such an important project. We were proud to be there and to share the stage with so many amazing artists, human AND canine! Love from us all at Zama.
From the Dancers Love Dogs funder and producer Brigitte Reeve:
Dear Zama Dance School, I could never sufficiently thank you enough for your amazing contribution to our 2017 Dancers Love Dogs show. Each year the show just honestly gets better and more spectacular, and the audience has been raving since Wednesday. What a special and magical evening you helped create for our foundation. This has enabled us to once again raise funds for at least 1500 sterilizations. With this year’s show, we will have raised over 2 million rand and our sterilization figures will reach well over 10 000. That is really PAWsome! Thank you to each and every one of you for your part in this awesome collaboration. With all my love and gratitude. Brigitte Reeve Taylor (Founder: Dancers love Dogs)
November 10th & 11th: Interplay & Ellipses (CDC / CAPA)
On Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th Zama was invited to watch performances by the Cape Dance Company (CDC) and the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA) at Artscape, both under Debbie Turner’s Artistic Direction. The first was Saturday’s performance of Interplay by the Cape Dance Company. This was very exciting for us, since 2016 Zama graduate Thimna Sitokisi was performing in the opening number SUN, The Rite of Passage. It was choreographed by young South African dancer and choreographer Mthuthuzeli November, who is a former CAPA student himself. The second performance was on Sunday and was by the Cape Academy of Performing Arts. Their end-of-year show, Ellipses was amazing and highlighted the variety of subjects studied at CAPA. The cherry on the cake for our students was at the end of both performances they could meet the dancers as part of CDC & CAPA’s audience development programmes. We’d like to thank everyone involved for two truly memorable performances that I know our student will treasure for many years to come.
November 18th End of Year Ballet Assessments
Our assessments took place on Friday the 17th and Saturday the 18th with guest examiner, former principal dancer with the Cape Town City Ballet Daniel Rajna. Mr Rajna observed our Introductory class on Friday, and commended Leanne on her work with our youngest students aged 7 to 8 yrs. He presented each child with their certificates and an invitation to join us next year for Grade 1.
Saturday the 18th November was assessment day for the rest of the school, and it all ran very smoothly. Our results were very fair to fabulous, with no fails.
November 30th End of Year Concert
We were once again delighted to welcome our Chairman Mr Raymond Ackerman and his wife Wendy Ackerman to the school, as well as our Trustees, Freya Griffiths and Michael Sizani.
We looked-back in dance at our year on stage and honoured our founder Arlene Westergaard who passed away in August of 2017. We celebrated our diversity with Leanne Voysey’s My Heart Speaks Every Language which we dedicated to Arlene, Leanne’s new tap quartet Jitter Bugs, class work and Taryn van Zyl’s new hip hop for the performance team, Bubble Gum.
We also welcomed dancers from Debbie Turner’s Cape Academy of Performing Arts who performed Michelle Reid’s Back Chat which was created for CAPA’s 2017 tour to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and premiered in Cape Town at the Show Case of Dance’s 70th Anniversary celebrations at the Baxter Theatre in August. It features the full-time students of CAPA and includes 1st year CAPA student, and a 2016 Zama graduate Thimna Sitokisi.
Also performing were principal dancers Mariette Opperman & Craig Pedro by kind permission of the Cape Town City Ballet (CTCB) who performed The Nutcracker Pas de Deux from the full-length ballet The Nutcracker.
At the concert, we sadly said goodbye to 17 yr old Nkulie Sizani who begins her studies in law at the University of the Western Cape in January 2018. Nkulie began her training with us when she was seven and I’m sure the studio will feel very empty without her. We hope she keeps her Zama family close and remembers we are always just a phone call away.
Above left: Mihlali, the winner of the 2017 Dean Bennewith ‘Go for Gold’ trophy pays tribute to Zama’s founder Arlene Westergaard by hanging a photo in her memory on our wall. Right: Nkulie who graduates from Zama this year with Mihlali
December 1st Performance at Tembaletu school for the Disabled Gugulethu
On Friday morning, we packed our cars with costumes, dancers and props to perform for the children at Tembelethu. Tembelethu is near Zama in Gugulethu and is one of only four special needs schools in the Western Cape which offers education to Xhosa speaking children in their mother tongue. We performed at Tembeletu in September of 2015 and December 2016 to smaller audiences, but his year was quite different. The hall was full and a-buzz with excitement as we joined forces with Reddam House, who gave them all a pair of brand new shoes, as well as other beautiful and exciting gifts.
Lukhanyo performs The Roaring 20’s at Tembelethu
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Chairman, Mr Raymond Ackerman, our Trustees Freya Griffiths, Michael Sizani, Melanie Stark and our funders for their continued loyal support. A special acknowledgement to Mr Ackerman and his wife Wendy Ackerman, the Ackerman Family and the Raymond Ackerman Foundation, who have generously supported Zama Dance School from when it was founded by Arlene Westergaard in 1989.
I would like to thank the Cape Academy of Performing Arts and the TDA and WPDTA who enable us to grow from strength to strength, as well as the Cape Town City Ballet who’s generosity and inspiration is much appreciated.
To the Zama Dance School staff, teachers and choreographers, thank you for your hard work and dedication over the past year. Leanne Voysey, thank you for sharing this incredible journey with us and for making such a difference in these young lives. Lastly, to our beautiful, talented young dancers; thank you for making Zama a truly incredible place. Your enthusiasm, hard work and commitment inspire us every day.
And lastly for their invaluable help and support during 2017 I would like to thank, James Fernie and Uthando SA, the Western Cape Government, The Flora Family Foundation, Education without Borders, Toni Snow, Astrid Sherman, Debbie Turner and Jill Winter.
Wishing you all a wonderful festive season. Andrew Warth - Director
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September was a busy but exciting month with the eisteddfod taking place in Sea Point. For our students this annual event is an absolute highlight on the dance calendar and provides a familiar performance space, where their talents can be measured against each other and where they meet and interact with other dance students from schools in and around Cape Town. This year Zama won five 1st places, two 2nd places four 3rd’s as well as numerous other awards. The Most Promising Junior Entrant Award went to 10-year-old Zimkhitha for her Doll dance and this year’s Eye-Catching Award, awarded to candidates whom the adjudicators felt gave an eye-catching performance went to 11-year-old Owethu. The 2017 TDA Fabulous Award went to 13-year-old Monica in the senior section and 15-year-old Asanda received the, I Saw You Award in recognition of her of her stand-out performance in the Roaring 20’s dance. Asanda’s music started jumping in the middle of her solo, but like a true professional, she continued to the end and earned herself a round of applause from the 3 adjudicators.
Our first-ever tap duets called 'Jitter Bugs' were a hit and were performed very well. Both received Honours and were invited back for the Finals.
Buntu and Aviwe are seen here on the left and Monica with Anelisa below (left). This stunning piece was created by Leanne Voysey with help from Peter Johnson.
Asanda's music stopped during her solo, which did not prevent her from finishing her dance beautifully. Well done Asanda, even the adjudicators gave her a round of applause!
Left: Miss Leanne prepares Asakhe and Cwenga’s makeup before their Doll dance and the boys (right), Lukhanyo, Buntu and Hlumelo pose on the red carpet!
TDA management Denise Morrison and Founder Di Fincham with the Zama dancers in their various costumes
ZAMA’s 2017 EISTEDDFOD OF THE PERFORMING ARTS ZAMA RESULTS|
|Monica Dumakude & Anelisa Sitengile|| Honours|| 88.83%|
|Aviwe Siwela & Buntu Anta|| Honours|| 88.66% |
|Modern (danced in finals)|
Group - Modern Section
|My Heart Speaks Every Language|| Diploma|| 90%|
9-10 (Rag dolls)
|Asakhe Nakani|| Diploma|| 94.5%|
|Cwenga Malamba ||Diploma|| 90.83%|
|Similise Bele|| Diploma|| 90%|
|Lathitha Mnyembane|| Diploma|| 90%|
|Zimkhitha Mshumpela|| Honours|| 82.06%|
|11-12 (Rag dolls)|
|Owethu Jonas|| Diploma (1st place)||96% |
|Hlumelo Ntshangana|| Diploma (1st place)|| 96%|
|Inathi Damoyi|| Diploma (3rd place) ||90.16%|
|Liyema Bandla|| Honours|| 80.99%|
|13-14 (Roaring 20's)|
|Lukhanyo Anta ||Diploma (1st place)|| 99%|
|Monica Dumakude|| Diploma (2nd place) ||96%|
|Uviwe Madlingozi|| Diploma (3rd place) ||92.17%,/
|Aviwe Siwela|| Diploma (3rd place) ||92.17%|
|Buntu Anta|| Honours|| 86.66% |
|Anelisa Sitengile|| Honours|| 86.49%|
|15-16 (Roaring 20's)|
|Asanda Mehana|| Diploma (1st place)|| 94.83%|
|Zikhona Papiyana|| Diploma (2nd place) ||90%|
|Mihlali Ntshangana ||Honours (3rd place)|| 88.67%|
A very special thank you to Mrs Ackerman this month for ensuring Zamadoes its bit for the environment.During September we had asolar heater installed creating a cost-effectivesolution to heating our water geyser, and reducing our electricity bills. Thank you, Mrs Ackerman.
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Term 3 began on the 24th July with intensive rehearsals for our season of four performances at the Baxter Theatre of Show Case of Dance (WPDTA). Leanne spent two weeks of the winter holidays working on My Heart Speaks Every Language preparing it for the smaller Baxter stage. She also taught our younger students their dances for the 2017 eisteddfod (August / September). Whilst this took place, I went to Hannover Germany, where I attended the opening of Corinna Guthknecht’s photo journalism exhibition. It centred on and around Zama Dance School. It was wonderful to see Zama’s work displayed so far afield and to be able to discuss our students’ strengths, hopes and dreams with a new audience. During my short trip to Europe I spent a day at the Royal Ballet School in London where I was treated to a front row seat of the final dress rehearsal for their annual performance. I also spent time with Miss Tamara (Tamara Moubayed) who our students so adored this April when she taught a week long Russian Ballet Course at Zama and trained Leanne and I in the Russian teaching technique (Legat).
Visitors at the Hannover photographic exhibition by Corinna Gutknecht
Andrew and Paul Lewis, 1st year boys dance teacher at the Royal Ballet School Convent Garden
The above photos were not featured in Corinna Gutknecht’s exhibition, but are two of my favourites from her collection
August 12th: Western Province Dance Teacher's Association
Show Case of Dance
Show Case of Dance began on Saturday the 12th and ended the following week. This year it was held at the Baxter Theatre and we joined over thirty dance schools, professional dance companies and guest artists in celebration of the Western Province Dance Teacher's Association (WPTDA) Show Case of Dance 70th Anniversary. This year’s international guest artist was Precious Adams from the English National Ballet. Precious began her training at the Academy of Russian Ballet in America and went on to study at the world-famous Bolshoi Academy in Moscow, Russia. Her dressing room at the Baxter was next to Zama's, which thrilled our students tremendously. Precious is kind, warm hearted and a beautiful dancer. She gave each of our performance team (14 dancers) a gift with individually hand-written messages. Thank you, Precious Adams. You are an inspiration to us all at Zama Dance School and you made our 14 dancers very happy indeed.
Thank you to all at the Western Province Dance Teacher's Association for 70 years of excellent dance service in the Western Cape, and an amazing Show Case of Dance 2017
August 15th: Mrs Ackerman's Visit
Wendy Ackerman came to visit on Tuesday the 15th and brought 40 beautiful blue and pink towels for our new showers. The construction of our showers was completed last month and was entirely backed by Mrs Ackerman. From the students: Dear Mrs Ackerman. We, as the Zama Superstars would like to thank you for everything you have done for us. The dressing rooms are phenomenal and the towels were just what we needed. We really appreciate every little thing you have done for us. You are our fairy God-mother. Without you there is no Zama and dancing is what makes us happy and we really love it. We promise to take care of the new dressing rooms and lovely towels. You are astonishing, we love you very much. We promise to make you proud!
August 18th: Ballet Black
A big thank you to Toni Snow and the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA) for bringing their guests Cassa Pancho and Chris Akrill through to Zama on Friday the 18th. Cassa Pancho MBE, is the founder and Artistic Director of the UK’s Ballet Black, a professional ballet company for dancers of black and Asian descent. Their goal is to see a change in the number of black and Asian dancers in mainstream ballet companies. One such dancer is former CAPA student, Mthuthuzeli November. Mthuthuzeli was born in Cape Town and started dancing at the age of 15 with the outreach programme, Dance For All. Like Zama’s Thimna Sitokisi, who is currently a first-year scholarship student at CAPA, Mthuthuzeli was awarded a scholarship to attend CAPA in 2011 and joined Ballet Black in 2015. Cassa was joined by British dancer, choreographer, and Co Director of the critically acclaimed London based dance company Head Space Dance Christopher Akrill.
Cassa Pancho and Chris Akrill with Leanne and Zama dancers
It was with great sorrow that we heard of Zama Dance School’s Founder and former Principal Arlene Westergaard’s passing on the 19th August 2017. A true ground breaker, Arlene worked tirelessly to introduce non-white dancers to classical ballet during the apartheid era. With the help of Mr. Raymond Ackerman, she turned her dream into reality. Zama Dance School stands today as a testament to her vision and drive 28 years on. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones.
In 1984 Arlene put heart and soul into living her dream when she left the jazz dance centre she ran in Cape Town to work with African children. A dancer from age three, Arlene had always wanted to work with underprivileged children and began by asking the Department of Race Relations to find her some students. She was given six children, one of whom had a father who was a minister in Gugulethu. He became interested in what they were doing and, surprised to learn that township children were keen on classical dance, offered them the use of the church. Once the pews were pushed back, it made space for once-a-week classes for 56 students from Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Langa and Gugulethu, ranging in age from 5 to 19 yrs.
Within a year, classes were held five days a week and Arlene was teaching full time. To support herself, she sold her house, invested the money and lived off the interest until 1990 when she persuaded Dr Dulcie Howes and Raymond Ackerman to be the school's patrons and Pick n Pay to become its major benefactor. Almost immediately, Mr Ackerman established a trust to ensure a long-term future for the school and its students.
In 1985 when questioned as to why black dancers were doing classical ballet instead of their own kind of dancing, Arlene replied; “I'm sick and tired of hearing people say, 'but they haven't got the feet for it... they don't have the physique... it's not in their culture... how do they listen to the music?' What a load of codswallop. Zama encourages growth and development. We don't think in a box."
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4 May: Uthando (Love) South Africa Visit with Media from We Are Africa Travel Trade Show
The “We Are Africa” Travel Trade Show is an annual event held at Cape Town’s Green Point Stadium and brings the top tourism businesses and media from around the world to Cape Town. The show’s aim is to introduce overseas travel tourism to some of Africa’s best travel brands. This in turn sheds light on Africa’s diverse countries, organizations and people. One such travel brand in South Africa is a Zama Dance School Funder, Uthando (Love) South Africa. Uthando is a unique nonprofit that is linking tourism and community development. It was a treat for Zama’s young Grade 1 class on Wednesday the 4th May when Uthando’s founder and Director James Fernie arrived with his We Are Africa guests to observe their dance class. The guests represented top media houses including Conde Nast, Forbes, Saveur and Amuse Magazines. This was Grade 1’s first opportunity to dance for an audience, other than ballet teacher Miss Leanne or myself. The result was quite extraordinary and if I’m honest, was not expected. All 22 Grade 1’s present that day, with an average age of 8 yrs. and just 4 months of structured ballet classes put their beautiful performance faces on and danced with commitment, confidence and joy. They took instruction well in front of strangers, and enjoyed the visitor’s applause. Needless to say, our 2016 Grade 1 class is really something quite special. As a result of the visit, Zama Dance was recently featured in Forbes Magazine online.
Zama Dance School's 2016 Grade1 class strike a pose with 10 year old Lathitha (centre) whose birthday it was.
Saturday 14th May: Dancers for Dancers
Zama joined the Theatre Dance Association and many Cape Town based dance studios for the 2016 Dancers for Dancers gala at Artscape Opera House. This annual dance highlight is a benefit performance for the Cape Town City Ballet. We placed and lit our new tap group, Joy on Friday the 13th before the 9am Final Dress Rehearsal the following morning and performance later that evening. It was a long and tiring day for all. Our meeting time was 7am at Zama, returning home way after dark. Zama provides breakfast for the students who don’t get at home, as well as lunch and juice throughout the day.
Saturday 14th May: Grahamstown Rehearsals at CAPA
Between our Dancers for Dancers rehearsal and performance that same evening, the students rehearsed at CAPA in Westlake with the rest of the Grahamstown tour cast and choreographer, Michelle Reid. This new collaborative work called Shadows combines both Zama and CAPA students.
Zama’s performance team rehearse Michelle Reid’s Shadows at the Cape Academy of Performing Arts in Westlake with the full CAPA Shadows cast
Thursday 26th May: Security Meeting with Carl and Princeton
Following an armed burglary at Zama in October 2015, security has been upgraded. An automatic gate closer has been installed and Princeton’s Grade D guards have been replaced with Grade C. At the time we were unable to find a rapid response company in our area, but with SECUPRO Security on board now we feel a lot safer. Sourced and negotiated with much help and guidance from the Ackerman Family security manager, Carl Lassen.
- Rehearsals for our much anticipated Grahamstown tour continued at Zama and at the CAPA studios in Westlake.
- Zama’s Maths homework class with Daniel Rajna continued through May on Sunday afternoons.
- Zama’s Director Andrew Warth adjudicated at the Water Front Theater School’s Choreographic Competition.
Former Zama Student: Neige Rooiland
Dear Mr Andrew May 9th 2016
I am here to thank you and Zama Dance School for being such an important factor in my growth as not only a dancer, but as a human being. Thank you for being super human when it comes to helping create diamonds out of coal and thank you for your un relentless belief in me. The tough love. The subliminal compliments when I got a move right, the "well done Neige" to the "are you mad”? were all part of the wonderful mentorship you bestowed upon me. I hope you still have that ballerina girl statue I gave you with the promise that I'd become a renowned ballet dancer.
Former Zama Dance School student
Neige Rooiland in 2009
Life happened. I ended studying Law instead of dance but everything happens for a reason. I hope you're still proud of me either way. It is good to see the amazing work you are doing at Zama in other little people's lives. God bless you. I believe you put on the earth for something very special. To bestow rhythm upon us lost souls who would not necessarily become dancers. But to keep dancing in whatever we end up pursuing. Dancing lawyers. Dancing doctors. Dancing engineers. Dancing dancers. The rhythm will never stop. Thank you once again Mr. Andrew
Forbes Online Magazine I May 2016
An Essential, Enriching Side Trip from Cape Town. Laurie Werner
I wasn’t sure what to think at first when James Fernie, the director of the South African community outreach and fundraising organization Uthando, came to pick us up to take us out to the townships outside of Cape Town as one of the philanthropic cultural tours that he conducts. I liked James immediately for his no-holds-barred commentary on the challenging conditions of life in South Africa today and for the fact that, as he said, he would have addressed the iconic Nelson Mandela not as President despite his great respect for him but as “homie” since they came from the same place. What I wasn’t sure of was how we would be regarded, as visitors to areas in which people are living in depressed conditions. Would they see us as gawkers, should we even be there?
All doubts were dispelled, though, as soon as we settled into our lineup of chairs in the front of the room used by the Zama Dance School in Gugulethu, one of the programs in this township that Uthando supports. The director of the school, Andrew Warth, an Englishman who previously danced with the Essener Ballet before moving to Cape Town and dancing with the Cape Town City Ballet, is a taskmaster, but a supportive one, and he runs his ballet class of young girls and several boys through sequences choreographed to Cole Porter’s “Cheek to Cheek” and “Night and Day.” He praises them when they’ve done well and calls them out when they move in the wrong direction or gets the streamers they’re carrying tangled in one sequence. In between he explains how these classes help these kids with self-esteem and place them in a constructive environment but some have definite talent and several have gone on to professional careers. We’ve been introduced as friends and we applaud wildly after every dance, prompting shy smiles and giggles from the girls. After the first class exits, we ask to stay on and watch another class, the second year students until we have to move on because we’re expected somewhere else.
As he explains where we’re going, James chokes up and as he tells the story, we understand why. We’re heading to an after school program sponsored by the Amy Biehl Foundation, named for an American student who had come to South Africa in the early 1990’s and worked with members of the African National Congress and the University of the Western Cape’s Community Law Centre on the country’s new Constitution and approaching free election. In August, 1993, the year before the election, she was murdered in an episode of political mob violence. Four young men were convicted of her murder but were later freed, partly after a grant of amnesty by Amy’s parents who fund these programs in her memory to give the troubled youth of this region other opportunities besides turning to crime.
When we get to the center, we’re dazzled by music, by rhythmic dancing, by singing, three different groups of children excelling in performance and then enjoying the reaction they get. We’re humbled by the Biehl family’s efforts, turning their grief into support for these vulnerable kids and by Uthando’s fundraising to support more of these programs. By the end of the day, we definitely knew why we were there. Any visitor to Cape Town should go.
Zama Dance School’s 2016 Grade 1 Class put their beautiful performance faces on and danced with commitment and confidence for our guests from We Are Africa Travel Trade Show
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April was an exciting month for everyone at Zama with the arrival of Tamara Moubayed from the Russian Ballet Society (RBS). Miss Tamara was here to teach a week of Russian Ballet workshops, which our students had been looking forward to for a long time, as well as being here to train Leanne and I in the Russian training method. We’d both been studying the Russian method with Miss Tamara via email and phone since the beginning of 2017, and we are extremely proud to announce that we have become fully qualified Russian Ballet teachers with the RBS and very proud recipients of Professional Dance Teachers' Diplomas. The Russian teaching method is one of the purest methods and is interesting to both teach and learn.
Left: A relaxed Leanne, Andrew and Tamara Moubayed at the end of our last exam day. Right and below: Miss Tamara gave a Russian Ballet workshop to 66 of our young student during the Easter school break.
A brief history of the Russian Ballet Society teaching method (Legat)
Nicolas Legat joined the Mariinsky Theatre ballet company after graduating from the Imperial Theatre School in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1888. He was soon performing principal roles in Coppelia, La Fille Mal Gardee and Sleeping Beauty, partnering great ballerinas of the day, Mathilde Kshessinska and Olga Preobrazhenska. He also taught at the Imperial Theatre School, where his pupils included Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina, Mikhail Fokine and Vaslav Nijinsky, all of whom in their turn became stars both in Russia and abroad when Diaghilev brought Russian ballet to the west.
As a teacher, Legat was the link between Petipa, Cecchetti and his own pupil Agrippina Vaganova, who never left Russia and Alexander Puskin, the beloved teacher of the great Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Having lived through the revolutions and upheavals of the first two decades of the 20th century in Russia, Legat finally severed his ties with the Mariinsky Theatre and the Imperial school in 1923. He spent some time in Europe and was ballet master for Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes in the mid 1920’s before finally settling in London in 1930. Legat’s popular “class of perfection” was attended by the founding figures of English ballet (The Royal Ballet) and included Ninette de Valois, Anton Dolin, Alicia Markova and the young Margot Fonteyn. (Adapted from an article by Jane Gall Spooner)
Miss Tamara’s visit was made possible by the Russian Ballet Society who reduced their training fees considerably to accommodate Zama. We would like to thank the RBS President Deborah Adamou and Artistic Director Robert Hampton for making this possible and Miss Tamara who not only taught 66 of our enthusiastic Zama students but also managed to train and examine both Leanne and I in just 7, intensive days! Miss Tamara you were amazing. Thorough, patient, encouraging and so inspiring.
Also during April, we had the pleasure of Swiss-German photojournalist Corinna Guthknecht’s company. She is currently studying for her Bachelor degree in Photo Journalism at the University of Hannover in Germany. Her thesis is centred around life in a township and how young dancers (in particular 6 Zama students) express themselves through dance, finding hope, joy and perspective through ballet. Corinna spent many hours in the studio with Leanne and I as well at the homes of the children with their families who were all so welcoming and generous with their time. One of her 6 dancers is Zama Dance School graduate Thimna Sitokisi, who is now a first year Scholarship student at Debbie Turner’s Cape Academy of Performing Arts in Westlake. We are still very much involved in Thimna’s life at Zama. Ensuring he has sufficient travel funds and food as well has driving him to his orthodontic appointments are just a few of the things we do to help make his life a little easier. On his 18th birthday this month, Zama bought him a razor which I hope will last him many years. Just like my dad taught me how to shave when I was 18 years old, I was able to do the same for Thimna this year. We’re so proud of him!
I would love to share all Corinna’s photos as they are beautiful, but I have promised to wait until after her Bachelor’s presentation and exhibition in Hannover (June 2017) before doing so. She has given me permission to share these though of Thimna at home, at the dentist and with his CAPA teacher Daniela Di Lorenzo during class and rehearsals.
Corinna enjoys a slice of birthday cake at the Sitokisi house in Gugulethu
Thimna and his pas de deux partner at CAPA
Thimna with CAPA’s Head of Ballet, Daniela Di Lorenzo
Teaching Thimna to shave on his 18th birthday, and one of our regular trips to the orthodontist.
Thank you letter from Thimna Sitokisi
I would like to send my sincere thanks and gratitude to the entire Zama Dance School board of Trustees and to the funders who have assisted me with travel costs, to and from CAPA, food and all my practice clothes. To name just a few Mr & Mrs Ackerman, Uthando SA, First Edition Clothing and the entire Raymond Ackerman Family Foundation. Thank you for the huge part you have played in my life by assisting me financially. I am truly honoured and grateful for the support. The funding has been helping me from the beginning of the year in terms of getting me my dancing attire, transportation money and weekly groceries for school lunch. I am also thankful to Miss Turner at CAPA and my former director Mr Andrew Warth who have both been guiding me in this new journey. Once again from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.
Mr Thimna Sitokisi
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March 14th: Doreen and Bob Ward with Shoes for Africa
We had an amazing afternoon with Doreen and Bob Ward from Leeds, England on Tuesday the 14th. Last year they donated 2 pairs of tap shoes to Zama, which had belonged to their grandson, a student at Ballet Rambert in the UK. He had out-grown his shoes and wanted to find a new home for them. They ended up at Zama and fitted a delighted Nkulie perfectly.
Nkulie wearing the tap shoes from
the Ward’s in Leeds, England
It was also lovely meeting Andile's Mum, Mrs Sotiya, who came to meet Doreen and Bob and we would like to thank everyone who helped make this extraordinary afternoon happen. James Fernie at Uthando, Phil Rendel (Parker House) and Jill Winter for the beautiful photos. Thank you Andile Sotiya and his 2 sons. Doreen and Bob, we can’t believe you managed to bring so many shoes and letters! Well done to you, and thank you. The most important and biggest thank you I’ve saved for last and it goes to the amazing Northern Ballet students who collected all the dance shoes and wrote the beautiful and inspiring letters to Zama. Thank you so much, our students loved your letters, and I know they will all enjoy dancing in their new shoes next term. Thank you for all the time you spent writing to us and for collecting so many beautiful shoes. Thank you Asanda and Uvs for translating the letters here at Zama, and it was lovely meeting you Mrs Sotiya. Love from us all at Zama Dance School.
At the age of 11 Andile convinced his parents to let him join classes at Zama where Arlene Westergaard was teaching. "Despite being mocked by the other boys who called me 'sissy', I loved to dance. I thought it would just be a hobby. I had no idea it would become a full-time career," he says. Andile came from a creative and supportive family background and attributes part of his success to Arlene — "she kept me focused".
In 1994, he won the Sanlam International Ballet Competition at the Pretoria State Theatre as well as a Vita Award for the Most Promising Male Dancer in the Contemporary Category at the Dance Umbrella in Johannesburg. He was the first recipient of a scholarship to the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in 1995. He currently teaches at the Northern Ballet School in Leeds. He has taught extensively in the UK and in South Africa. "One of the highlights of my dancing career” says Andile “was arranging for the Phoenix Dance Theatre to be involved in the Millennium Square Celebrations in Leeds where we performed for Nelson Mandela and his wife Graça." The dancers were later invited to lunch with the former president and his wife.
March 17th: Helping the Firestricken Communities of Hout Bay
After the devastating fires that ripped through the Hout Bay townships in March, we wanted to try and lend a hand. We filled-up the Zama bus with clothes donated from CAPA, our own cupboards at home and the Zama storeroom and contacted our friend Helena Fagan. Helena heads-up the Harvest Youth Project, a Hout Bay NGO above the market in the harbour, and we set off for what turned-out to be quite an adventure. Helena and her students were waiting for us when we arrived and made a huge fuss of the Zama students. Their kind hospitality, spontaneous entertainment, passion, and drive was quite overwhelming, and literally (actually) moved us to tears. A huge thank you, Helena, for distributing our collection of clothes, furniture, and dance togs (from Zama Dance School & Debbie Turner and Haley @ CAPA) into the fire stricken communities of Hout Bay and beyond. Thank you for the most inspiring afternoon, and for sharing your students' artistic energy and love. We really look forward to seeing you all at Zama in Gugulethu one day soon.
Dearest Andrew and Leanne from ZAMA DANCE SCHOOL, Debbie Turner, and Haley from CAPE ACADEMY OF PERFORMING ARTS and all your beautiful young dancers and their families who have opened their kind hearts for the children of Hout Bay. We want to thank you ALL from the very bottom of our hearts!!!! Our children are simply overwhelmed by this extremely generous gesture and to see all these dance shoes and fabulous gear - oh golly it simply put them into a spin of excitement! You are bringing happiness and inspiration to children, many of whom have lost everything including their homes. Harvest Youth Project will be sharing with other NGO's in Hout Bay to make sure everything goes to a most worthy home where it is most needed. THANK YOU! It was such a special occasion to have ZAMA drive all the way in Friday traffic to come visit us. Our children are most excited and looking forward to visit Zama Dance School in Gugs.
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January 23rd: Zama Opens for 2017 Registration.
Zama opened its doors for 2017 registration on January 23rd which was again coordinated by our secretary, Vuyokazi. During the same week, the dusty studio and dressing rooms were cleaned and prepared for classes, and shopping was done for Feeding Scheme. Launched in 2010, the Feeding Scheme ensures all our students receive a delicious and nutritional meal after their 3 weekly classes. Sandwiches with assorted fillings, hotdogs or beef burgers with chips are all prepared daily on the premises by Nomtha and are accompanied by fruit, juice, or milk. Classes began on Wednesday the 25th and as always with a special welcome to our lovely new Grade 1 class. We spent time going through Zama’s Promise form with them, which they took home to be signed by their parents, and fitted them with their first pair of brand new ballet shoes. Our numbers are a little lower this year, much to the ballet shoe elastic sewers relief, but we have a lovely group from the Amy Foundation (Amy Biehl Foundation), making our Friday Introductory class the largest ever, with 40 dancers!
Our 2017 Grade 1’s stand in 1st position in their new blue leotards and ballet shoes.
Zama’s Intro class which includes 20 children from the Amy Foundation take their first stretch class under the watchful eye of Miss Leanne and with the assistance of our Grade 5 students
96 registered students this year, a little lower than 108 in January 2016
Registered Students 2017
Intro Class x 40
Grade 1 x 22
Grade 2 x 13
Grade 5 x 5
Seniors x 6
January 25th was also the first day of classes for the students at the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA) in Westlake where Zama’s 2016 graduating student Thimna Sitokisi is now a fulltime student. A huge thank you to the Raymond Ackerman Foundation and James Fernie at Uthando for assisting Thimna with his daily travel costs from Gugulethu to Westlake and back, as well as CAPA for Thimna’s full bursary
February 4th: Friends and Other People (FOP) Rehearsals Began
Rehearsals for Friends and Other People (FOP) began on the first Saturday of the month and will continue until we first perform it in June. FOP was Leanne’s first large group piece for Zama and was first performed at the 2013 eisteddfod and was awarded 100% from the 3 adjudicators and a Diploma. This year’s FOP will include some of our junior dancers, making it a cast of 17 and our largest group in recent years
Zama seniors re learn FOP from a 2013 DVD and assist Leanne in rehearsals with the juniors
February 11th: The Great Moscow Circus
A very special thank you to Berniece Friedmann and the Producers of the Great Moscow Circus for inviting 15 of our students to their matinee performance on Saturday the 11th of February. Being an afternoon performance, we could include some of our younger students who were literally popping with excitement. We sat in one long row, which offered them plenty of opportunities to play around, but they were so well behaved and we felt so proud to be there with them.
From the students: For some of the younger ones it was their first circus and they were very excited driving there on the Zama bus. We were also excited, but Asanda said she was afraid of clowns. After the show, she said they were like normal actors who rehearsed their parts, and she is not afraid anymore. The clowns were very good. We all thought it was great and they all worked very hard. It was dangerous and everyone screamed. Even Mr Andrew. Thank you, Miss Leanne, and Mr Andrew for taking us and Miss Berniece for our chance to see the Great Moscow Circus in Cape Town.
Last Minute News and Our Thanks ...
Congratulations to former Zama Dance School student Candice Dongwe who graduates this June from the UCT School of Dance with a Dance Teacher's Diploma. Candice is pictured here (left) during her 3rd year at UCT with the internationally renowned South African dancer, choreographer Gregory Vuyani Maqoma.
Many thanks to Melissa, CAPA and the Ballet Shopfor the beautiful clothes, Vanessafor the teddys & colouring books, Megan & Valentina for the German chocolate,and the Great MoscowCircus for your wonderful performance.
8 yr olds Lilitha and Anako play ‘point and flex’ in the dressing room before class
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