South Africa’s cultural history is endowed with legendary institutions that have mobilised thousands of our people in embracing this sector as a site of struggle against apartheid and went further to empower many from the disadvantaged communities to make their mark in the global art scene – one such institution is the Moving into Dance. History will judge us harshly if we are to allow such institutions whose resilience enabled them to survive the tyranny of apartheid’s culture to fade into oblivion or even close through lack of support. Jambo Africa Online posits such eventuality will be a travesty of justice that some of our cultural luminaries, such as Thamsanqa “Thami” Mnyele, sacrificed their lives for…
Moving into Dance (MID) is South Africa’s premiere professional, full-time, contemporary African dance company and training academy, with a national and international footprint. MID is driven and run by a dynamic team, accountable to a Board of Trustees. Under the leadership of Chief Executive/Director of Education, Nadia Virasamy, MID presents work that is thought-provoking and innovative, yet accessible. Its work brings to life the zeitgeist of contemporary African dance, Afrofusion, characterised by sheer physical beauty and self-expression. MID was founded in 1978 and continues to hold fast to the original ethos of founder, Sylvia ‘Magogo’ Glasser who started her life’s work training youth from disadvantaged communities and equipping them with skills which could be used to overcome poverty. Since its inception as a non-racial dance cultural activist company, MID has had a major impact on the socio-cultural transformation as well as the economic empowerment of South African youth and boasts an incredible alumnus of South Africa’s topperforming artists.
Through the organisation’s Performing Arts Training Course (PATC), young talented dancers between 18-30 years old, from some of the most poverty stricken areas in the country, are identified and brought to Johannesburg to be part of the South African Qualification Authority Accredited Training Course. The students are housed, fed and clothed and are not only trained in dance and movement, but also educated in business communication skills, computer training, career development skills in related environments, research ability and dance facilitation and choreography. As part of breaking down barriers, MID recently introduced a disability project: “Enable through Dance” which recognises the lived-experience of disability, and seeks to restore confidence and self-esteem as a social phenomenon, through artistic, literary, and other creative means.
For Moving into Dance 42 years is a huge feat in an industry that is under-resourced, under-funded and whose impact is constantly bombarded by questions of economic viability. MID continues to hold fast to the ethos of our founder, Sylvia Magogo Glasser , who was honoured in 2016 by being awarded The Order Ikhamanga (Silver) by the President of South Africa, which honours citizens who excelled in fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism or sport.
Glasser was knighted by King Willem-Alexander of Holland for her tireless work in the arts and was also awarded Living Legend Status by the Department Arts and Culture Glasser (“Magogo”) started her life’s work by training youth from disadvantaged communities, equipping them with skills which could be used to overcome their socio-economic circumstances. Having begun at the height of apartheid as a non-racial dance group Moving into Dance developed into one of South Africa’s première, professional, full-time contemporary African Dance Companies. MID is a widely acknowledged as a trailblazing, nationally acclaimed, professional company and, importantly, as an accredited training organisation which continues to produce a multitude of award winning and productive dancers, choreographers, arts administrators and teachers working throughout South Africa and internationally.
MID’s full-time, one-year fully accredited Performing Arts Training Course; MID’s 2nd & 3rd year On-the-job Trainee/Apprentice Programme; and an extensive Outreach Programme reaches into under-resourced areas throughout South Africa. Additionally MID offers recreational dance classes for the general public.
Through the organisation’s Performing Arts Training Course (PATC), talented young school leavers between the ages of 18‐30 from some of the most impoverished areas in the country, are identified and invited to Johannesburg to audition to for inclusion in MID’s South African Qualification Authority Accredited Training Course.
The MID Performing Arts Training Programme (PATC) operates as a fully accredited training institution through CATHS‐SETA and SAQA functioning as a skills programme providing professional career training. This consists of both theoretical and practical subjects. The theoretical dance course consists of dance and related academic subjects as well as Oral and Written Communication, History and Anthropology of Dance, Financial Acumen and IT and Computer Skills, choreographic development, research, written and oral communication, and career development skills in related environments such as arts management. The practical dance course includes Afrofusion, Contemporary Dance, Indigenous South African Dances, Body Conditioning as well as Choreographic Skills.
Many graduates of MID’s courses have become well known choreographers, teachers, performers, stage & television actors and are role models in their communities. To date, over 450 young people from the townships and villages of South Africa have benefited directly from this programme. Downstream, many hundreds more have benefited from workshops and performances and especially from returning students transferring their skills to their communities.
The PATC is fully accredited by the CATHS‐SETA. The training is based on unit standards from the National Certificate in Performing Arts (NQF Level 4), which MID implements. This vocational training programme is premised upon a near two‐decade history of the Community Dance Teachers Training Course (CDTTC) that was recognised in South Africa as an established training programme for community dance teachers.
MID runs an internationally-renowned Professional Dance Company which continues to inspire, delight and challenge audiences across class, culture and age throughout South Africa and the world; having performed to enthusiastic audiences throughout the world.
Their activities are structured around an integrated programme of dance creation, performance, development and national outreach in schools and community groups. The work it performs is an original fusion of African movement, ritual and music with Western contemporary dance forms and music. The company endeavours to continue to present work that is thought‐provoking yet accessible, dynamic, energetic and exciting. Since 1990 the company has performed to enthusiastic audiences in Southern Africa, Africa (Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lomé and Nigeria), Israel, Australia, Canada, the United States of America, Malaysia, Croatia, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia.
The Company consists of 10 dancers between the age of 20 and 38. These company members have all progressed through the ranks of Moving into Dance’s training programme becoming exceptional performers, choreographers and dancers. All versatile performers, they are equally at home in theatres as they are in arenas, schools, conferences and corporate events.
Enable through Dance, is MID’s new programme which works with people living with disability, enabling them to interact and perform with our Dance Company and Student dancers. MID has redirected its thinking around disability to an alternate perspective that speaks to a “social model” of disability. Through this model we understand that disability is made real through the manner in which society is organised. The operations of social and professional life are generally structured around the needs and functioning of people that are not disabled. People with disability are not fully afforded the tools or means to operate independently in society and enjoy the benefits the rest of society does. It’s not disability that stops disabled persons from doing what everyone else does; but the fact that the world ignores their needs: for access, understanding, education, etc. Society excludes disabled people by erecting physical and mental barriers and assigning labels such as ‘special needs’ people. MID realised that removing the barriers through allowing accessibility and equal opportunity to disabled people could aid in changing the face of how disability is perceived, understanding that disability is propagated through a lack of social awareness, we work to remove the barriers preventing people with disability from living life to the full. As part of breaking down the barriers, MID has introduced a project called “Enable through Dance” which recognises the lived-experience of disability, seeking to restore confidence and self-esteem not as a medical model construct but as a social phenomenon, through artistic, literary, and creative means.
MID’s motto Nyakaze o Fetohe – Making a Difference through Dance – embodies its underlying philosophy and practice of transforming lives, one student, one dancer, one family, and one community at a time. MID’s 42 years of performance, training and development under challenging conditions has proven one thing, and that is, the power to survive lies in the passion for an art form that does not just build muscle but builds communities.”
Sylvia Glasser has self-published a book titled “Tranceformations and Transformations – Southern African Rock Art and Contemporary Dance” which is available through the MID. The YouTube trailer of the book could be accessed below:
“The book will be a useful model for others seeking to effect systematic change through art making and arts education,” wrote Sharon E. Friendler, Stephen Lang Professor of Performing Arts and Professor of Dance Emerita, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA USA.
The veteran South African journalist, dance writer, researcher and author, Adrienne Sichel, also wrote in a blurb: “The heritage publication is a major addition to dance pedagogy, dance writing and literature per se. The writer’s profound activist legacy is now, thankfully, also enshrined in print.”
Jambo Africa Online highly recommends this book as an excellent gift to corporates’ clients and stakeholders.
To establish contact with the MID, please send an email to Nadia Varisamy at email@example.com