FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY has been extremely pro-active in generating community based dance projects and programmes in both rural and urban areas of KZN. In February 2003 FLATFOOT set up its first dance development project in KwaMashu called SIYAGIJIMA.
This project ran at the Sports Hall in KwaMashu, Section C, and offered dance classes three afternoons a week – in its first year the classes attracted over 130 young aspirant dancers. The age group of participants has ranged from 6 – 23years. As time progressed we realised that the girls and boys access this project differently and that often the girls were silenced. This lead to us starting up another specific ‘rights of the girl-child’ project called PROJECT DUDLU NTOMBI.
This project has been running for over 10 years (now situated in Umlazi) and has enjoyed initial start up funding from the Royal Netherlands Embassy in 2004, and partial teaching support funding from KZN DANCELINK in 2005 and 2006. We have worked with over 1500 young girls in the past twelve years. DUDLU NTOMBI is taught by using dance as a methodology for life skills learning and training especially around issues of sexuality, HIV/AIDS and gender identity. FLATFOOT has been fortunate to have highly skilled dancer/teachers who have run this project as part of the artistic life of the company.
At the beginning of 2008, FLATFOOT received a one year grant from HIVOS to support its community-based dance and arts learning programmes. This allowed us to develop our projects such that we were able to grow our community-based dance and arts learning work to include up to 12 programmes across KZN – amongst others: Project HHESHE NSIZWA in Umlazi (a rights of the boy-child project), Umlazi Bright Stars Programme (dance skills for very young dancers aged 5 – 14yrs), and three rural dance development projects/programmes based in Mboza and Ndumu (near Jozini).
In 2008 FLATFOOT also began its first disability dance project in conjunction with the Durban Open Air School – this project has gone so well that we will continue the programme with a bigger intake of dancers each year. Following this, in 2012, FLATFOOT began a beautiful collaboration with the Tugela Mouth residents and now have a strong community relationship for the “FLATFOOT Tugela River Mouth Dance Programme” to thrive.
FLATFOOT has a very well developed and successful dance education and development programme. Now, in its thirteenth year, the company continues to dance with, educate and train approximately 1000 KZN-based youth and children each year.
These programmes are offered FREE OF CHARGE to the community participants and learners.
FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY runs 7 dance education and development programme in urban areas around Durban. The projects are run with 2 specific aims in mind:
We believe that dance is an excellent pursuit; apart from the obvious discipline and commitment we ask of the learners who participate in these projects, we feel that it also teaches a keen sense of community and group social dynamics, encourages listening skills, and offers a safe space for many of projects participants to engage issues around sexuality and about their own safety.
The following are details of each urban based project:
The Umlazi arm of Project DUDLU NTOMBI has been running for 11 years - it is our biggest project. Classes are held twice a week in the afternoons in Umlazi M Section. The group ranges in age from 8 – 20-years old and we currently have 90 girls participating.
This KwaMashu based programme has been running for 13 years. Classes are held twice a week in the afternoons at the KwaMashu Sports Hall. The group ranges in age from 6 – 20years old and we currently have 48 boys and girls participating.
Project HHESHE NSIZWA (Umlazi) has been
running for 10 years and came about as many of the young boys in the project
also wanted to dance and have their own space like our girls’ projects. We
decided to make a space for these young boys to come and work with two of the
male FLATFOOT dancers who would be (and are) role models and offer them a safe
space to negotiate their own growing up issues around what it means to be a
young Zulu boy/man. This project runs two afternoons a week in Umlazi M section
and has about 35 boys participating.
The Waterloo Dance Programme has been going since 2013 and supports the Waterloo community North of Durban. The programme currently has about 38 youth participating. The Waterloo schools offer very little arts and culture learning and so, in partnership with these schools, FLATFOOT’s programme assists the schools in the delivery of this vital area of human development.
LeftFeetFirst is run in collaboration with Durban’s Open Air School for leaners living with disability. We began this project in January 2008 and are delighted by the enormous progress that the young dancer’s have shown over the years. This is highly specialised teaching and facilitations and so the group is made of 30 young dancers. We have a fantastic support base with the partnership of the school and see this as a model methodology for arts and dance education and development.
This programme began in January 2011 when the Newlands Youth Development Organistion approached us to collaborate with them by running contemporary dance classes. So successful has this collaboration been that we have committed to making this one of our on-going annual programmes.
This is FLATFOOT’s newest dance programme which started up in June 2013, and is run in partnership with Child Welfare and the William Clark Gardens Youth Care Centre. Working within the social development system, FLATFOOT has used its methodology of “dance for life learning” to full effect at William Clark. The programme now has about 40 learners participating and we offer classes twice a week.
At the beginning of 2007, FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY began its rural dance development programmes with the start-up programmes in far Northern-KZN in Mboza and Ndumo (about 5 hours drive from Durban city). The connection came through the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s politics programme where one of the academic staff (Dr. Harald Witt) was running a research project around rural environmental development in the area. He approached FLATFOOT to begin some youth related projects as the community (like so many rural areas in KZN) had very little arts education. We took up the challenge immediately and 2012 marked the 6th year of our successful intervention programmes.
We have created special programmes for these young learners which use dance and the arts as ways of teaching issues around both gender and the environment. The programme has become so successful that the Nduna’s from both areas often come to support our concerts and have publicly endorsed the work that we are doing. These programmes are run in conjunction with two primary schools (Mboza and Ndumo) and one high school (Ndumo) and thus we are pleased to say we have the buy-in from the local governing educational bodies. Because of the distance away from Durban (about a 5 hour drive) our projects are run over one weekend a month where we travel up on a Friday morning and return on a Sunday. Despite the severity of travel, these are projects that have brought enormous rewards to us and the learners we have been working with, and the humility of acceptance into some of the poorest and yet most generous communities in KZN.
Lack of funding, however, has meant that over 2016 these programmes have had to be suspended.
In 2012, FLATFOOT was delighted to make a unique partnership with SeaFrog Communications who facilitated the start-up of our Tugela River Mouth Dance Programme. Tugela Mouth is located about 1h30mins outside of Durban and is a peri-urban/rural community where very little arts education and development is happening in the schools and the community. FLATFOOT run a once-a-month programme and 2016 (after a funding hiatus in 2015) marks our fourth year of this amazing programme.