New sponsor for popular dance festival

THE organisers of Dance Umbrella 2012 have taken the unusual step of confirming "the people's dance festival" - many months in advance.

This is due to the fact that a sponsor has come on board to fund this popular contemporary dance festival.

Dance Umbrella 2012, which started on February 3 at various venues around Johannesburg, will go on until March 3 2012.

The Dance Forum invites young choreographers to send a proposal for a new work they wish to premiere at the festival.

Due to confirmation of funding by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Dance Umbrella is offering a grant of R30,000 to encourage and nurture a young choreographer who has been presenting contemporary work for at least the past two years.

The grant will go to the creation of the work in addition to the free theatre and technical back-up that usually applies to entrants.

It is open to professional South African choreographers. Work submitted should not be shorter than 20 minutes and should include at least three dancers.

Applications will be considered by the Dance Forum board and other consultants.

To get an application form, phone Lindi at the Dance Forum on 011-492-2033.

The Dance Umbrella festival is the brainchild of veteran dancer Georgina Thompson.

The festival first partnered with First National Bank until last year, when the bank withdrew funding.

The funding by Lotto comes at a time when debate was raging about the future of the festival.

In the past the festival has unearthed talent that is now big in contemporary dance.

These include Lulu Mlangeni, last year's winner of the popular TV show So You Think You Can Dance, Dada Masilo, a young star from Soweto currently taking the dance world by storm, and contemporary dance icon Gregory Vuyani Maqoma of Vuyani Dance Theatre (VDT) fame.

Maqoma, one of South Africa's leading choreographers, is presenting his 'revamped' 2010 work Four Seasons, at the Dance Factory in Newtown from today until Monday.

This return season of Four Seasons is in celebration of VDT's many years in the industry.

It has been made possible by funding from National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.

The funding is for a three-year period and has enabled VDT to improve its management team.

The team, together with a new board and patrons - Judge Edwin Cameron, Advocate Pinky Mokgatla and Consular Paul Mees - is a blend that bodes well for the company in the years ahead.