Well-known KwaZulu-Natal choreographer and dancer Sifiso ‘Magesh’ Ngcobo received the 2017 JOMBA! Eric Shabalala Dance Champion Award at the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban last night (Thursday, August 31).
Now in its 7th year, JOMBA! Eric Shabalala Dance Champion Award, honours of the memory of Eric Mshengu Shabalala who tragically passed away in 2011; he was a local dancer, choreographer, teacher and one of the founding dancers of the Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre in Durban. In a fitting tribute, the Centre for Creative Arts and the Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience Dance Festival has set up this annual award to honour some of KwaZulu-Natal’s stalwart dancers and dance teachers.
“The award is given not only in recognition of performance or choreographic excellence, but also more profoundly and more importantly it is given in recognition of dance practitioners who have worked tirelessly to help grow a culture of dance and dance training in Durban – who have supported the growth of dance as an art form at both community and regional level,” said Lliane Loots, Artistic Director of JOMBA! at the award ceremony.
“In selecting recipients, the committee look for those gifted individuals who have gone above and beyond – often without funding – to dedicate themselves to the cultural industry and to put KZN dancers and dance on the national and international map,” she said. “So we honour Sifiso because of his bold initiative, for not sitting back waiting for funding and for hand-outs but for getting up and making a difference by using his skill as a dancer and as an educator.”
Ngcobo, who currently teaches dance and isiZulu at St Nicholas Diocesan School in the Pietermaritzburg, also runs a scholar dance company within the school called “St Nics Dance Company. He was born in Umthwalume, and has a degree in Drama and Performance Studies and an Honours degree in Community Development, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Before joining the Flatfoot Dance Company in 2003 he performed and toured the world in the celebrated dance show African Footprint. As one of Flatfoot’s founding members he was instrumental in setting up their now 15 year history of dance education and community engagement.
“This award is given primarily for the work he is doing his own education and community project in Imbali Township at Sukuma Comprehensive School,” explained Lliane Loots. “He works with young school going learners and in dance programme called the Umsunduzi Youth Development Project and uses both drama and dance to address social, economic issues, life orientation as well as community child and gender abuse.”
Past recipients of this prestigious award include Jarryd Watson (2011), Sifiso Khumalo (2012), Byron ‘Bizzo’ Tifflin and Preston ‘Kayzo’ Kyd (2013), Jabu Siphika, Julia Wilson (2014) and Zinhle Nzama, Ntombi Gasa (2015) and Musa Hlatshwayo (2016)
"I am so excited about this award,” enthused Ngcobo accepting the award. “Credit must go to Jomba, the Centre for Creative Arts, the St Nicholas Dance Company, Umsunduzi Youth Development Project, and of course the Flatfoot Dance Company, for grooming me to be what I am today. I have been doing this kind of work for a very long time and it is good to be finally recognized. We work without funding and support from the government but the passion and fire within us keeps us going because our goal is to make an impact in different communities and give hope to the hopeless through dance. The projects I run in Pietermaritzburg have made a significant impact in the learners' lives and that makes me happy. We are not yet done!"
For more information about JOMBA! go to www.cca.ukzn.ac.za