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Mashigo's latest piece keeps audiences on their toes

By Patience Bambalele | 2014-09-06 10:19:58.0

WITH her latest piece, titled More In Than Out Of Time, award-winning choreographer and dancer Portia Mashigo is proving her creativity.

The show opened the annual FNB Dance Umbrella last Sunday and wowed audiences with the dancers' awesome twists and turns and impressive footwork. The piece features a group of young dancers from North West and Limpopo who were trained by Mashigo.

The show is a celebration of various traditional dance styles such as Sepedi and Tswana moves.

Mashigo says the idea behind its creativity came from the dancers during a workshop. She says the dancers looked at the struggles facing artists when it comes to funding and opportunities, and they incorporated these struggles in dance form. "As artists who come out of Gauteng, they feel isolated when it comes to development and funding," she says.

Mashigo says the project was born out of a collaboration between the local Cultural Development Trust and Africalia, a Belgian-based development company facilitating the creation of cultural production in Africa. The aim is to develop young dancers and give them a platform.

"I've been teaching these kids for five months. Most of them were doing traditional dance (and) I introduced them to contemporary dance."

Mashigo, who was born in Soweto in 1974, began dancing at a local youth club at the age of 13. In 1989, she joined Moving Into Dance Mophatong (MIDM), where she received her formal dance training under renowned dancer and teacher Sylvia Glasser.

Since then her dance career has taken her to international stages and exotic locations such as Finland, France and the US. Her hard work was recognised in 2004 when she was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award.

As part of winning the award, she created and performed three works - Staircase: One way Up;Let There Be Peace (which earned her the Most Promising Female Dancer award at the FNB Vita Dance Umbrella that year); and Mum's Man - My Father, which was featured at the Women's Festival in Durban in 2000 and subsequently went to showcase at the Celebrate South Africa Festival in London the following year.

Mashigo also teaches dance moves at the Market Theatre Laboratory in Newtown. She has previously taught dance at several institutions including Wits University, Soweto Dance Theatre, Soweto Youth Drama Society, St Stithians College and Dance Factory. In 2002 she established her own dance teaching project - Lebohang Dance Project (LDP).