Jazzart Dance Theatre, a contemporary dance company, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Since its inception in 1973, the company has made significant contributions to the realm of arts and culture, heritage, youth development, and job creation. To honour this milestone, the company is organising a year-long series of performances and cultural activities called “50 Years of Dance.” These events will showcase Jazzart’s rich history, influential cultural reach, and pay tribute to the dancers, choreographers, teachers, and leaders who have shaped the organisation.
Pushing the Boundaries of African Contemporary Dance
Jazzart has consistently remained at the forefront of the dance industry, pushing the boundaries of African contemporary dance and delving into the nation’s rich culture. Marcus Desando, Chairperson of the Board, emphasises the significance of dance as a unique expression of self, circumstance, and narrative. He believes that, especially in today’s world, dance is a creative outlet for release.
Tremendous Social Impact on the Youth
Jazzart has made a tremendous social impact on the youth across the country. Averil Barry-Hughes, Managing Director of the NPO, expresses her immense pride in the company’s accomplishments over the past five decades. She particularly emphasised the notion that dance requires passion, not a particular body shape, gender or age.
The Celebration of “50 Years of Dance”
The “50 Years of Dance” celebration will kick-start with the international production and world premiere of “Requiem: Journeys of the Soul.” Choreographed by Jazzart’s Artistic Director Dane Hurst, in collaboration with Phoenix Dance Theatre and Opera North, the production features two new dance works set to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Requiem” and a new piece called “After Tears” by famed South African composer Neo Muyanga. The grand spectacle will boast 16 dancers, 40 opera singers, and a live orchestra, debuting at the Leeds Grand Theatre from 26 May to 4 June 2023.
The celebration will continue with the Jazzart dancers returning to South Africa to participate in the National Arts Festival in Makhanda from 30 June to 2 July. The new cohort of trainees will perform in-studio from 4-8 July. Jazzart fans are invited to witness the budding journey of these young artists in a performance that encapsulates a day in the life of a Jazzart trainee dancer, featuring a new work by the previous artistic director, Sifiso Kweyama.
Throughout the rest of the year, Jazzart will embark on a tour, culminating in the premiere of the Jazzart Dance Theatre’s Meraki Festival. Scheduled to take place at Artscape from 5 to 15 October, the festival will showcase celebrated and multi-award-winning local and national choreographers, dancers, and companies, including Cape Town Opera, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, and UK-based Phoenix Dance Theatre. The remounting of “Requiem: Journeys of the Soul” will also feature in the festival.
A True Testimony to the Impact of Dance
With a dynamic, emotive, and thought-provoking programme that celebrates the power and longevity of contemporary dance, the 50th-anniversary celebration of Jazzart Dance Theatre promises to be a true testament to the impact of dance across South Africa and beyond.