Our mission is to provide children in historically disadvantaged communities with the opportunity for enjoyment, empowerment and promotion of self esteem through the medium of dance, as well as training professional dancers and developing a unique, indigenous dance company.
“While I dance I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole. That is why I dance.” – Hans Bos
And that is why Dance for All (DFA) teaches dance, offering the opportunity every day to hundreds of children from historically disadvantaged areas to experience joy and to feel whole through the medium of dance. As DFA comes of age, we celebrate 21 years of giving our students the chance to reach beyond their circumstances through being empowered with skills that could open doors to a career in the performing arts. Their training, which is of a very high standard, gives them a strong dance foundation. But beyond that, it equips them with personal and life skills that will be an advantage, whatever they choose to do.
Whether classes are taking place at our home-base studios in Athlone or in a township classroom or community hall in DFA’s Cape Town Outreach areas of Gugulethu, Nyanga, Langa and Khayelitsha, there’s always a high-energy buzz as students flock into class. Here, students ranging in age from three to young adults learn ballet, African and contemporary dance from a talented and dedicated team of teachers. Some were founder or former DFA students, while others have the experience of successful professional dance careers behind them.
DFA’s Rural Outreach Programme offers similar dance classes in the areas of Barrydale, Montagu and neighbouring Zolani.
Positive Social Change
Most of our students live in extremely challenging socio-economic circumstances. By providing an enjoyable and constructive extra-mural activity that is open to all, DFA gives children the opportunity to spend their afternoons off the street, in a safe environment, while learning valuable dance skills.
But our work is about much more than dance training. Our staff and teachers provide students with a support system of mentors and our structured dance classes help to develop life skills such as discipline, confidence and self-esteem – all of which empower students to set positive goals for their future.
DFA has a rich account of students who have achieved great success as a result of the transformation they’ve experienced. These stories serve as an inspiration to our current students and those who wish to be part of DFA.
Talented students from the Cape Town Outreach Programme are selected for DFA’s Specialised Dance Programmes, comprising Ballet, Contemporary Ballet and African Contemporary. These intensive training programmes prepare students for careers in the performing arts.
As an introduction, students on the Specialised Dance Programmes who would like to perform and who show particular talent may audition for InSPIRAtions Youth Company.
As part of their training, students in this group are prepared with the requisite skills and knowledge to enter the world of professional dance. They are developing an exciting repertoire of old and new choreographic works, across a variety of dance forms, which creates many performance opportunities.
InSPIRAtions Youth Company may be hired for performances, corporate or private functions, as well as for television commercials.
When Philip Boyd, a former principal dancer with CAPAB (now Cape Town City Ballet), started offering township ballet classes in 1991, it was to a group of 34 students in a classroom in Gugulethu, under the name of Ballet for All. He was building on the legacy of CAPAB director David Poole, who started teaching ballet in the townships of Cape Town during the mid-1980s.
As Ballet for All grew, Boyd recruited more dance teachers and expanded the programme to include diverse dance styles, renaming the organisation Dance for All in 1995.
From its early days, renowned Prima Ballerina Assoluta Phyllis Spira (OMSG) was involved in Ballet for All. On her retirement from the stage, she joined DFA as Assistant Artistic Director and, until her unexpected death in 2008, helped to build the organisation into the highly regarded school of dance it is today. A powerful testimony to this is that at least 20 ‘graduates’ of the DFA programme are now working professionally in the performing arts industries in South Africa and abroad.
DFA is dependent on funding for its continued existence and being able to offer dance training to all students, regardless of their financial circumstances. This means we have to be very creative in accessing diverse funding sources. We recognise that sustainability is not only about money. We can also save on expenses by negotiating services and partnerships with companies who can contribute in some way to the many aspects of our organisation. We would welcome this type of partnership. See Support Us.
Dance for All is a registered Section 21 Company 2002/016119/08 and Non-Profit Organisation 036-431 NPO. We also serve as a Public Benefit Organisation, with tax exemption number PBO 930010087.