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TUNKIE AWARD FOR JAY PATHER (article first published : 2007-03-23)

Formerly of Durban and Artistic Director of Durbanís Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre, choreographer and teacher Jay Pather was recently awarded the prestigious Tunkie Award. He is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Drama, at the University of Cape Town. The award was presented to Jay on FNB Dance Umbrella 2007

The Tunkie Award was launched in 2003, in remembrance of Xolani Nettleton Dyusha, nicknamed Tunkie. He came from a disadvantaged background in the Eastern Cape. Despite enormous obstacles, he was able to further his education at a tertiary level, completing qualifications in business, marketing and sales.

Tunkie started working for Nedbank in Johannesburg and he seized the challenge presented to him in the early Ď90's. He worked with the team that conceptualised and subsequently launched the Nedbank Arts and Culture Affinity Programme. This culminated in the establishment of ACT, the Arts and Culture Trust of the President, with former President Nelson Mandela as its Patron.

Tunkie was involved in many important ground-breaking initiatives and arts sponsorships, that most certainly set the trend for corporate South Africa, post the sanctions era: the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the first post-sanctions cultural tour, officially announced at the United Nations; the London Philharmonic Orchestra; Kiri te Kanawa; Lord of the Dance; Maestro Raffa's stadium extravaganza of Verdi's Aida and very, very many more local and very significant arts sponsorships.

After completing two Honours degrees at the University of Durban-Westville, Jay Pather was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to read for an MA in Dance Theatre at New York University. He subsequently served as Resident Choreographer for Jazzart Dance Theatre, and Senior Lecturer at the University of Zululand and the Durban Institute of Technology. Pather's performances have travelled extensively: throughout South Africa and to Angola, Madagascar, Zanzibar, India, Sri Lanka, London, Germany, Holland, Australia and New York.

He has received commissions to create new work from the World Social Forum, Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience, Spier Arts Festival, National Arts Festival. FNB Dance Umbrella, the British Council and the Consul General Of India, He is recipient of a Brett Kebble Art Award, a Mayoral Excellence Award, FNB Vita Awards for Choreography and an Award for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities from the Convocation of the University of KwaZulu Natal.

Jay Pather has presented papers at amongst others the Workshop on African and African Diasporic Knowledges Conference; ASC0 Architecture Conference in Johannesburg, the School for New Dance in Amsterdam; the Contemporary African Dance Conference at University of KwaZulu Natal; at the Museum for African Art, New York; at the Beyond the Gallery Symposium and Confluences Conference as Keynote Speaker both in Cape Town; the International Leadership Forum at Aix en Provence, France, the UNESCO Conference on Art Education in Africa in Port Elizabeth, at the Territoires de la creation Conference in Lille, France and at the British Council and the International Theatre Institute in London.

He has served on the National ACTAG, the Arts and Culture Trust of the President, the Advisory and State Theatre Board appointed by the Minister of Arts and Culture and the delegation investigating cultural exchange with Cuba. He is Dance Representative on the National Arts Festival Committee and Chairperson for the Performing Arts Network of South Africa.




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