All in a day’s work for dancers

2015-06-11 06:01
Some high school students in Nyanga are working hard to eliminate the stigma that Nyanga is most known for: its high crime rate. They are investing their free time in dancing. 


Some high school students in Nyanga are working hard to eliminate the stigma that Nyanga is most known for: its high crime rate. They are investing their free time in dancing. PHOTO: GROUND UP

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Every day after school a group of young people from different schools in different parts of Nyanga gather together at Oscar Mpetha High School for a minimum of two hours for dance lessons.

The group consists of males and females who have made it their mission to take out their daily frustration by sweating through a tough dance practice.

They dance to kwaito, hip-hop and traditional dancing in a prefababricated classroom. It is dark and there are no lights. It is cold, but there is a heater, although the body heat of people dancing also warms it up.

Shaun Malima, a student at Oscar Mpetha, says he takes part in the daily dancing because he doesn’t want to associate himself with crime related activities in his neighborhood.

“When I come here, I get the opportunity to be free and be myself. People assume that every young male in Nyanga is involved in crime and that is not true.”

Relebohile Diphooko says she loves the dance classes because it is where she has freedom and a break from the difficulties she faces as a young girl.

“Being here every day makes me creative and it gives me some sense of belonging and the space to be myself. The youth tend to be involved in things that do not develop them, thus destroying their future.

We are here to change that, and to show the youth in Nyanga that they don’t have to fall into the trap of crime and poverty”, she says.

Ntombizodwa Dayeni, is the coordinator and coach of the group.

She said that the project is part of the Western Cape Department of Social Development’s Mass Participation, Opportunity and Access, Development and Growth (MOD) programme.

Dayeni is also a member of the Likhwezi Art Project, also based in Nyanga, says that the reason for the MOD programme is to keep young people active.

“The programme is created to take the youth away from gangsterism.

We also focus on learners who are not doing well academically and we encourage them to do activities such as dancing, sports and other extra mural activities,” she says.

“We identified that some learners prefer doing arts and culture and sport, in which case we take them to arts schools and sports academies so that they at least build a career.”

Dayeni says she loves what she is doing with the students.

Dancing is her passion, she says, and she loves seeing young people develop into good dancers

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