Choreographer and artistic director of Mhayise Productions Musa Hlatshwayo chats to us about his life as a dancer. He also talks about his performance at the 2018 Dance Umbrella Festival.
By Fundiswa Nkwanyana
Dancing allows me to express myself. It gives me a chance to use my body in creative ways to show my emotions. I love that the world is always changing and I have to find new ways to express these changes through dance.
I’m emotionally connected to all the performances that I have been part of. When I’m working on a dance routine, I immerse myself in it until I feel it in my core. I become one with the dance piece; everything else that comes afterwards is a bonus.
I currently work in an industry that does not prioritise my craft. I believe that the government is not doing enough to support dancers, and this has a lot to do with a lack of education on performance art. This makes it hard for the public and private sector to embrace and fund the profession. And the lack of funding is a huge challenge for dancers.
I founded Mhayise Productions because I wanted to help other dancers. There are limited places to rehearse and perform from. So my organisation, which is based in KwaZulu-Natal, partners with different organisations. And in exchange for a place to rehearse from, we offer free dance lessons to their staff members or free tickets to our shows. This way, we are able to save while building an audience.
I’m excited about performing a piece titled Doda at this year’s Dance Umbrella Festival. The dance explores the controversial and complex issues surrounding the way in which black men are portraying modern day and traditional masculinity with patriarchal tendencies. It also looks at society’s response to this.
I urge upcoming dancers to find what makes them unique. They must explore the different ways being applied today and add their unique element to them. They must also know their strengths and weaknesses in order to develop into critical voices in the industry.
Catch Musa Hlatshwayo at the 2018 Dance Umbrella Festival which is taking place from 6 to 18 March at various locations around Johannesburg.