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HLENGIWE LUSHABA (article first published : 2006-04-25)

Hlengiwe Lushaba is the winner of the 2006 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance. At the tender age of 23 this young lady, who hails from Kwa Mashu, KwaZulu-Natal, is already turning heads.

Hlengiwe matriculated from the Our Lady of Fatima High School in 1998. She then enrolled at the Technikon Natal where she completed a National Diploma in Drama Studies in 2001. While at the Technikon she started dancing for the first time and was taught, guided and mentored by Jay Pather. "Jay revolutionised my life - his methods of teaching have made dance accessible to so many people," Hlengiwe enthuses.

In her short career Hlengiwe has accomplished a great deal taking part in television shows, theatre voice-overs, dance and performance art presentations and, latterly, choreography. In 2002 she was awarded the FNB-Vita award for the most promising female dancer and in 2005 she received the FNB Phillip Stein Grant for Young Choreographers.

Having been the Jomba FNB Vita New Moves Grant Recipient in both 2001 and 2002, she went on to be chosen for the Young Artists Programme funded by Pro-Helvetia and the Swiss Agency Development Cooperation in 2002, the FNB Dance Umbrella Choreographic Residency in 2003 and was the FNB Dance Umbrella New Moves Grant Recipient in 2004.

Its not over until the fit phat lady sings, one of her choreographic works created for Edge, a dance programme under Siwela Sonke Theatre Dance Company, toured Belgium for the Lieb Festival earlier this year and went to the CND in Paris in June 2005 as part of the Le Cargo Team under Faustin Linyenkula.

The news that she had won the 2006 Standard Bank Young Artists Award for Dance came the day after her father's funeral, which Hlengiwe says was "a sign to succeed". "My Dad was extremely supportive of me despite not knowing much about dance, but he was always right there behind me. I am deeply humbled by this honour and never dreamt of getting an award of this stature at my age," she said.

Looking at her many achievements in these few short years, Hlengiwe Lushaba is a worthy recipient and she can look forward to a great future ahead of her.

As part of her Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance, Hlengiwe has been commissioned to produce a work for the 2006 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. It promises to be a dance theatre experience that cuts through convention with her signature panache. Releasing the dance in everybody, she frees audiences and performers from the gravity of expectation. Voices, bodies and hearts soar in the heat of her imagination.

The 2006 National Arts Festival takes place in Grahamstown from June 29 to July 8. More information on 046 603 1103 / 1164, fax 046 622 3082, e-mail: naf@founddation.org.za or visit www.nafest.co.za




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