Dancescape South Africa

Uplifting People Through Dance

Fiona Sargeant (1965-2017) was trained in England by the: Nesta Brooking School, Elmhurst, Ballet Rambert and Central School of Ballet. She had the privilege of working with exceptional teachers, such as Christopher and Carole Gable and Simon Mottram, her first teacher to influence and encourage her love of teaching. She enjoyed a fifteen year professional career dancing with the London City Ballet, NAPAC Dance Company and CAPAB Ballet. Her professional dancing career enabled her to perform and train internationally. Towards the end of her career she became involved with the CAPAB Ballets David Poole Trust 'Ballet for All' and later 'Dance for All'.

Above: Fiona Sargeant and trainee teachers Lihle Mfene, Lutho Zwendala and Anele Bizwaphi.

Fiona was highly regarded as a mentor and teacher with a Royal Academy of Dance 'Distinction' Teaching Certificate. In her life time she was recognized with four prestigious awards: 1995 The Balletomanes 'Behind the Scenes' Award for her contribution to the development of Dance. 2011 The Montagu Advice Office 'Cornerstone Award' for 'tireless efforts in previously disadvantaged and rural communities'. 2012 The Breede River Winelands Rotary Foundation Paul Harris Award 'in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among people of the world'. in 2015 Cape Winelands District Mayoral Award for Community Based Tourism Public Initiatives as the first recipient. Fiona had a vision and passion for changing lives through dance, uplifting people through dance, and it is the desire of Dancescape South Africa to keep her legacy alive for the longest time.

Dancescape CEO and Director (DSA) Mitya Sargeant started dancing at an early age and was taught by Patricia Clancy, Aileen Keegan, Dudley van Loggenberg, Dudley Tomlinson. He started working as a professional dancer in 1987 with the NAPAC Dance Company in Durban, South Africa. He danced many leading roles such as Albrecht in Giselle, Franz in Coppelia, Siegfried in Swan Lake, the Prince in Aurora’s wedding and many other roles. In 1992 Mitya married Fiona and they traveled together in Europe and Britain where he worked with the London City Ballet. They later returned to South Africa where Mitya worked with CAPAB Ballet Company in Cape Town. He retired as a professional dancer in 1996 and pursued careers in Pottery, Web design, Information Technology and the visual Arts. Mitya had over the years of their married life watched Fiona’s teaching progress in rural disadvantaged communities and wanted to preserve her legacy. With this in mind he registered Dancescape South Africa as an NPO in early 2016. Fiona had been diagnosed with cancer in early 2016 and passed away in September 2017. At the time of her illness Mitya was actively involved in teaching the students in the Zolani township. He now manages and directs Dancescape South Africa.

Above: Mitya Sargeant dancing in Spartacus whilst with the Napac Dance Company in Durban, Kwazulu Natal

Dancescape South Africa Resident Teacher Nqaba Mafilika was born in 1985 in Ncanelukeni, Lady Frere. Whilst he was still young his mother left the household to travel and work in Cape Town. Nqaba’s grandmother decided to send him to his mother when he was just 8 years old. Nqaba’s first experiences of the Western Cape was living for a time in Grabouw and then finally reuniting with his mother in Macaza near Khayelitsha where he attended school. At that time the late Fiona Sargeant was already teaching for the “Dance for All” project in Khayelitsha. A famous actor by the name of Zuko Vanyaza encouraged Nqaba and many of the other children to attending dance classes with Fiona. Nqaba knew nothing about dancing and thought that it would be much like Karate which he had seen on TV and wanted to try it. Soon after that, he attended his first dance class. He immediately showed a natural talent and Philip Boyd the director of the project took him under his wing. It was not easy to attend the daily classes in Khayelitsha as his home was a long distance from the dance studio but with support from his mother and his own determination Nqaba persevered. After about 4 years of training with Fiona, he was selected to join others from his dance class to attend school at Alexandra Sinton in Athlone. The group of about 9 boys and 3 girls were given a special scholarship to attend this school which offered dance as a Matric subject. In the afternoons the famous Phyllis Spira, wife of Philip Boyd continued the dance training. Phyllis Spira’s involvement with the project brought much interest from far and wide including from former American Ballet Theatre star, Kristine Elliott. The kids were exposed to teachers and choreographers from all over the world. This led to many of the students being given opportunities to attend international dance intensive courses. In 2005 it was Nqaba turn to travel and he attended three months of dance classes at the Richard Gibson studio in California.

Above: Nqaba Mafilika teaching the DSA students

The Dance for All Youth Company was also formed in that year providing an opportunity for these young professionals to perform. Nqaba was one of four dancers selected to tour to France, UK and New Zealand in 2006 and 2007 in collaboration with the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble. The production was uniquely South African combining the Pantsula to Bach accompaniment and other variations. In 2008 Kristine Elliott invited Nqaba to dance in Vancouver, Canada alongside stars of the San Francisco Ballet. In 2009 he attended classes at the iconic Alvin Ailey studios in New York. With visa and financial concerns, Nqaba was forced to return to South Africa later that year. In 2010, South Africa hosted the soccer world cup and Nqaba founded his own small dance company, it was called “Nqaba and Friends”. They took advantage of the excitement of the world cup and performed on several occasions, raising money for township projects. In 2011 he worked for Theo Ndindwa who had formed the Ikapa Dance Theatre. During this time he began to develop his love for teaching. In 2015 he worked with the South African Dance Trust under the directorship of Veronica Paeper. Soon after this Nqaba formed a social services project called “Nqaba Mafilika South Africa Community Development” or NMSACD. The project teaches dance classes in the townships of Cape Town. In September 2019 Nqaba accepted a position as a resident teacher with Dancescape South Africa.

fiona sargeant; school of ballet; central school of ballet; elmhurst; love of teaching; teaching; teaching ballet; professional dancing; career; dance for all; teaching certificate; certificate; montagu; ashton ; zolani; paul harris award; effort; dancescape south africa; south africa; mitya sargeant; web design; london city ballet; passion; legacy; vision; world; disadvantaged; rural; communities; tourism; public relations; initiatives; recipient; uplifting people; uplifting people through dance; winelands; people; township; cape town; nqaba mafilika; teacher; karate; theatre; Kristine elliott; phyllis spira; project; khayelitsha; new york; canada; pantsula; youth; young; soweto string ensemble; alvin ailey; community development