The Fiona Sargeant Legacy:
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 recognised 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 peoples 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 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 travelled 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.
Dancescape Dance Teachers:
Guest Teacher: Aviwe November
Aviwe November started dancing back in 2009. In 2008 the late Fiona Sargeant had already been teaching in Zolani for a few years when two boys joined her class. They were Siphe and Tutu November. Their cousin Aviwe came to see what they were doing but initially did not like what he saw and left. Only in 2009 when he came to visit and to watch Siphe and Tutu he was asked by Fiona to translate. Fiona asked him if he could demonstrate some of the exercises whilst translating. Aviwe soon realized that he seemed to be quite good at doing the steps and Fiona urged him to join the project, which he did. At that time they had a performance and with one of the boys missing from rehearsal, Aviwe was asked to step in. He enjoyed it so much that he started attending classes. Fiona also gave him lots of video of dancing to watch to stimulate his interest. It worked and Aviwe was inspired to work harder and he consistently went to classes all through 2010 and then into his matric year at school in 2011. He was not sure what he was going to do after school. Fiona then suggested that they make a video and Fiona's husband, Mitya, made a website about Aviwe with the hope that somebody would spot it and help fund further training. Fiona made contact with Debbie Turner in Cape Town and arranged for an audition at her school called the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA). Fortunately Aviwe got a full scholarship and was soon joined by his cousin,Tutu, who also received a full scholarship and they both attended the Cape Academy of Performing Arts for three years. Fiona making it all possible by arranging several fund raising events and performances to cover the boys accommodation and living expenses.
Whilst with CAPA they were involved in a TV program called Hectic 99. This led to a dance summer school in Washington, USA, in 2011. In 2012 they attended a summer school in New York for 4 week and in 2013 through the help of Kristine Elliot they did another summer program in San Francisco. Once he finished his studies at CAPA Aviwe started working for several companies in Cape Town such as Jazz Art, Underground Theater and The Figure of Eight. In 2015 he was invited to go to the Netherlands to work with a company called DOX. This was a collaboration between the South African company, “The Figure of Eight” and the Dutch company DOX. He stayed in Amsterdam and continued to work with DOX for the next three years. In 2017 Aviwe heard about Fiona Sargeant's illness and returned to Zolani and Montagu to visit her before she passed away in 2017. the very next year, Aviwe's mother was also diagnosed with Cancer and Aviwe returned home to be with her. He remained to support her throughout her illness and treatment. His mother is thankfully in remission and she is getting stronger every day. Whilst in the Montagu area Aviwe got involved with the RAD Foundation, teaching various classes for them and also with the Blue Vines Restaurant. In July 2019 Dancescape South Africa invited Aviwe as a guest teacher for the rest of the 2019 year.
Public Relations Officer:
In September 2018 Dancescape South Africa appointed Patricia Chimanga as its new Public Relations Officer. Patricia’s initial work will begin with making connections with the parents of our current students. We have discovered that most of the parents don’t really know what their children are doing in the afternoons when they attend classes with DSA. Patricia will be informing the parents / guardians about what we are doing every afternoon of the week. Furthermore they are told about the benefits of dance and the potential for making a career in the performing arts. Patricia is building bridges between DSA and parents and other important role players in our local communities.