Dance For All (DFA)

Girls getting ready for practice, Dance for All in Gugulethu Image source

Established in 1991, Dance For All (DFA) is a non-profit dance organisation, originally known as Ballet for All. DFA was an education development programme that functioned under the umbrella of CAPAB Ballet in Cape Town, now known as the Cape Town City Ballet. Philip Boyd, who was a principal dancer for Cape Town City Ballet, held ballet classes in a classroom at the Sivuyile College in Gugulethu. Boyd was following the steps of his previous ballet teacher and director of Cape Town City Ballet, David Poole. Poole taught ballet around the townships in Cape Town during the mid- 80’s.

After Poole’s passing in 1991, Boyd created the David Poole Trust in his memory in order to administer funds donated for the Ballet for All outreach project. DFA also established a scholarship programme for students in 1999 to attend the Alexander Sinton High School in Crawford. In 2001, DFA had its first collaboration with Jazzart Dance Theatre in their Danscape production.   

Ballet For All grew extensively as more dance teachers were recruited and the programme included diverse dance styles such as contemporary, jazz and latin dance, thus renaming the organisation to “Dance For All” in 1995. A year later, the programme expanded into townships such as Langa, Nyanga and Khayelitsha. Renowned Prima Ballerina, Assoluta Phyllis Spira, and wife of Phillip Boyd, taught at Ballet for All and helped build the organisation into the high standard of training it holds today. In 2005, she became the Assistant Artistic Director until her passing at age 64 in 2008 due to complications during surgery. 

In 2002, Dance DFA was registered as an independent Section 21 company which had Bary Tiney as the chairman of the board and had its offices at the Joseph Stone Auditorium in Athlone. Boyd was then appointed as the Artistic Director of DFA. Many well-known South Africans became patrons of DFA as they saw the importance of the work being done, these include: Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in 2003, Dr Mamphela Ramphele and John Persenda in 2007. DFA held annual fundraising events at the Baxter Theatre from 2004 to campaign for special programmes.

In 2005, the DFA Youth Company was formed under the sponsorship of the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and more classes were expanded within the rural area of Barrydale. In 2007, DFA moved their offices to their new premises in Athlone, which was bought and donated by the Ackerman Family Foundation. DFA continued to expand its programmes to areas such as McGregor and Bonnievale in 2008, the same year Boyd was appointed CEO of the organization. 

In 2010, DFA’s 20th year of running, they introduced Specialized Dance Programmes to and the InSPIRAtions Youth Company was formed. In 2012, the InSPIRAtions Youth Company was invited to perform at the International Ballet Competition at Artscape Opera House as well as a tour of Wales, England alongside the Zip Zap Circus and Fezeka Choir. In 2013 and 2014, DFA was nominated for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sports Awards Fund and their students took first place at the Cape Town Eisteddfod, an annual performance arts competition held nationally. In 2015, The Alvin Ailey Dance Company hosted a dance workshop at DFA and their students performed at the iKapa International Dance Festival at Artscape Theatre. DFA was also nominated for the Ministerial Awards through Department of Social Services. Allison Hendricks was then appointed as DFA’s new Artistic Director in 2015.   


References:
• https://www.danceforall.co.za/ (Accessed 2 June, 2017)

Last updated : 14-Jun-2017

This article was produced by South African History Online on 14-Jun-2017

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