Theo Ndindwa, internationally recognised dancer and choreographer, and Executive Director and Co-Founder of iKapa Dance, is a man on a mission. His aim? To create opportunities for disadvantaged communities by nurturing young dance talent.
This year, he’s achieved his greatest success yet: The first-ever annual Cape Town International Dance Festival. Three years in the making, this electrifying celebration of dance is a collaboration with two remarkable organisations: the Maboneng Township Arts Experience Festival, a national public arts initiative, and Battery Dance, a New York-based company committed to the pursuit of artistic excellence, social relevance, and building bridges worldwide through international cultural exchange. The event, which takes place from 23 November–3 December 2015 at the Artscape Theatre Centre and in Gugulethu NY 147–NY 144 is also supported by the Artscape Theatre Centre.
The theme for the inaugural festival is Town and Township, a thread that is intricately woven into the fabric of Theo’s life. Captivated by the world of dance as a young boy growing up in Gugulethu, Theo joined Dance for All, a programme founded by former CAPAB principal dancer Philip Boyd and supported by the late Phyllis Spira.
His big break came after finishing matric, when his two dance mentors took him to London to audition for the Rambert School of Ballet & Contemporary Dance and the Central School of Ballet. The result was a six-year long stretch performing in the United Kingdom.
In 2007, Theo, together with his now wife Tanya Arshamian, founded iKapa Dance Theatre, a uniquely South African contemporary dance company that has gone on to produce socially relevant, innovative, and artistically excellent productions inspired by current issues, and has been instrumental in the upliftment of disadvantaged communities in Cape Town.
Theo’s efforts in this regard have not gone unnoticed. He was one of only two professional performing artists chosen for the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellowship, which forms part of the Young African Leaders Initiative launched in 2010 by President Obama – Theo was afforded the opportunity to meet him as well as other top-level members of the American Government during his stay in the United States.
As far as iKapa’s success stories go, the Cape Town International Dance Festival is just one of many. As the event’s artistic director, Theo has been integral in bringing the event to life alongside Jonathan Hollander, founder of Battery Dance Company and Battery Dance Festival, New York City’s longest-running public dance festival.
Says Theo, “It's incredible to be at the forefront of such a dynamic and progressive event. The festival comes at a relevant time for our city, with the whole country undergoing deep economic and cultural transformation. Furthermore, it echoes this change by bringing together people from different countries, cultures, and social and economic backgrounds. It cuts across different arts genres and locations, breaking down barriers to build a nation and society that is engaged and united. We can't wait to welcome our visitors, both local and international.”
The festival launches on the 23rd of November with a jam-packed week of dance workshops, poetry and film, followed by a gala evening at the Artscape Theatre on the 28th, showcasing companies from the United States, India, Finland, Mozambique and South Africa. On the 29th, festival goers are invited to The Maboneng Township Arts Experience Festival, a full-day creative and cultural encounter, featuring six local and six international companies, which will turn homes and outdoor spaces in Gugulethu into performance districts.