Some rural Mpumalanga artists who did not know they had it in them to entertain audiences at a professional level have welcomed the launch of a street dance project.
The Ebhudlweni Arts Centre was recently launched in Emakhazeni, where choreographers, teachers and theatre practitioners spend time fine-tuning their art to international standards.
“This project aims to provide training for youngsters and youth leaders with artistic and organisational skills programmes. Trainings are for free and the project runs for a whole year,” said choreographer, arts activist and founding artistic director, PJ Sabbagha.
Sabbagha said the centre has already been running the programmes in Machadodorp, Dullstroom, Belfast, Entokozweni and surrounding areas on a weekly basis.
He said the project is part of The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative (FATC).
“We have been providing the trainings mostly to young people and those leading community based organisations (CBOs). We provide them with opportunities for them to develop and advance the role of the contemporary South African arts, individual artists, arts organisations, Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and CBOs as progressive and dynamic agents of personal and professional transformation,” he said.
Sabbagha said the activities included weekly rural outreach programmes reaching between 250 and 400 children.
“This is a national youth leadership programme and on-going mentorship programme benefiting 12 community arts youth leaders,” said Sabbagha.
Sabbagha will continue to lead the organisation supported by the newly appointed associate artistic director Fana Tshabalala.
“When we began it was hard. The youth did not think this will happen here but currently we have a consistent 150 trainees and it keeps going upward,” said Tshabalala.
Tshabalala said the trainings run for not more than an hour daily during the afternoons.
“We want the youth to know they can use their artistic skills for their financial benefit. The programme even keeps them fit and healthy. It is not only school that can provide them with better life skills but also talent,” said Tshabalala.
Francois Roux, general manager of Gooderson Kloppenheim, which sponsored the launch, said the official opening included a visit to the Belfast Children’s Home in Belfast.
“It also included presentations of new works developed and created by various outreach groups and artists,” he said.
Roux said since its inception in 1995, FACT project has been committed to creating South African dance theatre that interrogates critical personal and social issues.