Mamela Nyamza First Choreographer To Be Named NAF Featured Artist

Dance is finally being elevated in the arts community.
Mamela Nyamza in a performance of De-Apartheid
Mamela Nyamza in a performance of De-Apartheid
National Arts Festival

Gugulethu-born dancer and choreographer, Mamela Nyamza, has been announced as the National Arts Festival (NAF) Featured Artist for 2018 -- the first time the honour has been bestowed on a choreographer.

Nyamza, speaking to City Press, said: "It's good to have this acknowledgement, especially for my kids. I'm a lesbian and I'm out about it, and it's good for my children to see that their mother is a lesbian and a hardworking artist."

To be the featured artist at the National Arts Festival is a big deal. The accolade has previously been awarded to now-legendary artists like director Lara Foot, actor/director Sylvaine Strike and director Mike van Graan.

"Nyamza encapsulates what Nina Simone once articulated –– that an artist's duty, as far as she is concerned, is to reflect the times; might they be painters, sculptors, poets, musicians," said David April, of the NAF artistic committee and the 2018 dance programme's curator. "Nyamza's work remains politically charged and also challenges societal norms on, among other things, religion and gender-related matters. It is quite fitting that audiences far and wide will be given the opportunity to witness her work."

As the featured artist, Nyamza will show multiple works, including her seminal "Hatched", first performed ten years ago.

Said Nyamza: "I have always been inspired by a saying that without losing, winning or getting rewards isn't so great. So I have strived, got rejected, but still strived with doing my art, with the knowledge that one day my work can get appreciated, if not recognised.

"I am truly humbled and honoured to get this recognition from the National Arts Festival."

rewriting the past and killing it at the same time

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