02 February 2011 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

Determined to dance

I am going to write about the 2011 Dance Umbrella that’s running from 24 February to 6 March in Joburg later on in the month. But first I’m going to write about the event’s media briefing. I realise this is quite unusual. But I have my reasons.

On the surface it was just a routine briefing; what’s planned, who to look out for, where to be when. But listening to David April, chairperson of the Dance Forum Board, then Julie Diphofa from the National Arts Council, followed by Janet Watts from the Tshikululu Foundation, Kaja Kopkow from the Goethe-Institut, Zingi Mkefa, who’s facilitating a dance writer’s work shop and finally the festival’s Artistic Director, Georgina Thomson, I was struck by three things.

Firstly, I was struck by how incredibly grateful they were to have an event to brief us on. After the 2010 Dance Umbrella, FNB, who have been the events main sponsor for just about 20 years, withdrew their support. As a result, the festival was scaled down and huge efforts were made - successfully - to secure funding for the 2011 event. Everyone stressed that is was just as exciting as it was challenging - but having to fight for your funding in a tough economic climate can’t be an easy job. Well done to the sponsors!

Secondly, there is a real worry they will have to go through this again to secure next year’s event.  The message was clear. We need people to fund the festival and take it forward in “beauty and relevance”, to the benefit of our artists and our country.

And thirdly I was struck by how lucky we are as South Africans to have a small group of extremely dedicated and talented individuals fight to bring us the splendour and harmony of dance.

Now I think it’s our turn to be grateful. And we can do that by showing up and enjoying the festival. Chances are you will be moved by the experience and, if you’re lucky enriched by the beautiful stories told through the expressive power of dance.

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