The Power of Culture South Africa Special
The Dance Factory

Violin music echoes through the spacious rehearsal room. With their backs to each other, the young dancers glide smoothly and elegantly tothe floor. They belong to the selected few of the Dance Factory, a dance school in New Town, the cultural district of Johannesburg. "Maybe it doesn't look good on paper, but we are only working with 30 dancers," says director Suzette Le Sueur. "We know the children individually and their circumstances." There are auditions once a year. Classes on classical ballet and contemporary dance are taught two to five times a week. The rules are strict. If dancers don't make progress or miss classes, they have to leave the school. "The lessons are free of charge, and with money from the Dutch embassy we are able to provide free transport. The idea is that if you really want to train, this is a good place to come."

When the Dance Factory was founded in 1992, it sought to create an accessible space for people from the townships and the suburbs, black and white. "The arts have been way ahead of politics. The integration of dancers occurred before the change of government." However, the school only has black students. "We don't say the classes are only for black children, but for children with commitment. Wealthy parents are used to buying everything. Dancers here have to fight for their position. They are very focused" The goal is to produce professional dancers. The teaching methodology is tailor-made for the students, based on their needs. "There are a lot of dancers in this country, but many have had little training. This is an interesting experience to see what can happen when quality is provided. It is going to raise the status of dancers in this country."

Inge Ruigrok




Ten years of democracy in South Africa

Arts and Culture Trust
Dutch Embassy Pretoria
The Dance Factory
Market Theatre Laboratory
The Bag Factory
Film Resource Unit


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