Talking to the energetic Mduduzi Mtshali from the Durban University of Technology (DUT), who is a South African dance practitioner and a drama lecturer with a passion for teaching, writing and choreographing.
The accomplished and renowned Mtshali, who has worked with a number of national and international choreographers, has an immense passion for the love of theatre with the emphasis on dance.
“My aim is to encourage the standard of education that ensures the quality of young artists that make an impactful contribution to the artistic culture within South Africa and beyond,” he said.
Theatre has had a great impact in his life not just a mere entertainment but also as a space where culture, religion and community have been challenged, examined and represented as demonstrated in his productions, Unknown Citizens (2006), Umgcagco (2006), Light of Hope (2008), Rejected Angels (2009), Colours of Dreams (2010), Cosi Cosi (2011), Nokulunga’s Wedding (2012), Alive Kids (2017), to name but a few.
“My academic career began as a Dance and Movement Lecturer in 2005 at DUT in the Drama Studies Department and University of Natal OPERA School. Dance in all its forms, has been part of my life for over 10 years, along with those who perform it, create it, and teach it. I’m trying to encourage this art that is pioneering and dance artists who ride the crest of a new wave,” he said.
At the core of what he does, is a drive to back the artists who can keep dance contemporary. As an academic at DUT, he is very proud, as it’s a fundamental part of his duty to invest substantially in the production of dance seasons and creation of new work every year. “For nine years that I have joined the department, students have been offered an opportunity to perform new work at the International Dance Umbrella in Johannesburg and work with award winning choreographers in our Annual Dance Drama supported by the DUT. This support is vital,” he stressed.
For Mtshali, his passion is his job which has allowed him to instill the same desire to his students. The highly accomplished choreographer is no stranger to receiving accolades himself, and was the recent recipient of the prestigious JOMBA! Eric Shabalala Dance Champion Award this year.
“I enjoy making theatre that serves a greater social function as well as entertain. My first recollection of African contemporary dance was watching Vincent Mantsoe at the Dance Umbrella in Johannesburg early 90’s. This performance represented a part of African culture filled with spirituality, images, and songs and served to entertain simultaneously,” he said.
Mtshali grew up in a disadvantaged community on the outskirts of Durban. After completing his training at the Technikon Natal he appeared with local dance companies before broadening his horizons by accepting an invitation to dance with a French Dance Company: Jean Francous Duroure, and has travelled to Belgium, Paris, Netherlands, Germany, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Congo, Guinee, Cameroon, Ghana, and Gabon. His accolades also include spending a year at the London Contemporary Dance School in the UK after being awarded a Rio Tinto/ Richards Bay Minerals/ British Council Dance Scholarship, to name but a few.
For Mtshali, he thoroughly enjoys his time at DUT. “My aim is to encourage the standard of education that ensures the quality of young artists that make an impactful contribution to the artistic culture within South Africa and beyond. The results have been encouraging as my graduates are foraging careers as performers in theatre and on television. Several are creating their own works for the schools and theatre while others are being employed in allied professions such as education. This work is currently being continued at the Durban University of Technology,” he said proudly.
Pictured: Mduduzi Mtshali