Dancescape South Africa (DSA) is a non-profit organization based in South Africa. We facilitate dance classes in historically disadvantaged townships which were formed by the apartheid government of the previous regime. The organizations was registered as an official NPO in March 2016. Prior to this, our founder, the late Fiona Sargeant, worked for many years as a dance teacher in poverty stricken communities. She provided a constructive activity for the kids to do after school and in doing so get them off the streets and away from social ills such as drugs and gangsterism. Our goal is to continue her work and in doing so to preserve the Fiona Sargeant legacy. Fiona discovered a wonderful source of talent which she nurtured and many of her pupils are now dancing professionally all over the world. We are dedicated to helping those who show a passion and aptitude to the craft of dance by seeking training beyond their schooling.
Above: The DSA dancers perform at the Baxter Dance Festival (2019).
We have over recent years made it possible for student to attend the Cape Academy of Performing Arts in Cape Town, which has produced many professional dancers. However, only a small percentage of our students will become professional dancers. Therefore, our main focus is to provide a safe environment for learners to attend daily dance classes. The benefits of dance, of which some are listed below, are well documented and appreciated globally: The young dancer will learn to focus, develop coordination, musicality, body strength, and discipline to mention just a few. Dance is a powerful antidote to destructive behavior, a crime deterrent, keeping children off the street and out of harm’s way. Dance provides a healthy lifestyle, a safe, productive, and creative place/outlet for the body and mind. Discipline, practice, perseverance, resilience are transferable life skills, skills that include valuing life. The art form can even provide a sort of therapy or expression, a way of working through traumatic experiences other than turning to drugs or alcohol. Dance and art can be part of the healing of South Africa, part of the repair includes art education, and creative arts can bring about personal transformation. Dance practice in the youth helps develop more confident and better enabled young adults. We encourage our students to develop their creativity through their own choreography.
Above: Aphiwe and Phelo with all the awards that DSA received at the Montagu Youth Arts Festival in 2019
Our students are given many opportunities to perform throughout the year at various performances and festivals. These are very special times where many happy memories are created. Dancescape South Africa has on several occasions collaborated with the Gugulethu Ballet Project of which the renowned former ballerina Kristine Elliott is the director. This has led to several international excursions for some of our students attending dance intensives in the USA. In February of 2020, DSA were invited to attended workshops and perform at the 7th international “Biennale Tanzausbildung” in Hamburg, Germany. It was a huge success and inspiration for our young dancers who attended this event. DSA has also collaborated with our local Montagu-Ashton Tourism board who has adopted our project as a tourist attraction in our area. From the tourism office planed tours are arranged to visit our project.
Above: Aphiwe and Chuma in Times Square, New York whilst attending a dance intensive in the USA in 2019
Dancescape South Africa would like to preserve the Fiona Sargeant legacy for the longest time. The work that the Late Fiona Sargeant started has an invaluable place in the townships of South Africa. Poverty and unemployment make living in these townships difficult and even dangerous. Dancescape South Africa has provided the opportunity for the youth to get off the streets and engage in the art of dance, providing disciple, focus and even the prospect of making dance a career. Above all, I believe that Dancescape South Africa is providing hope, a hope that is lacking and in such demand in these historically disadvantaged communities of South Africa.
Above: Milisa Mathiso is currently training at the Indoni Dance Academy in Cape Town, well on her way to becoming a professional dancer.
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