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MDU MTSHALI (article first published : 2002-08-5)

Mdu Mtshali is this year’s winner of the Rio Tinto/Richards Bay Minerals dance scholarship to the prestigious London Contemporary Dance School.

Following the success of the Rio Tinto scholarships to the LCDS over the past three years, the British Council organised the fourth scholarship auditions at the studio of Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company last month. The workshops, led by Sue MacLennan and Clare Baker from LCDS, led to one scholarship being awarded to a South African dance artist – allowing them to develop their expertise in community dance during their year of study at the school.

While there are normally two scholarships awarded annually, this year only features one. A previous scholarship winner was unable to complete his year because of illness and has been brought back into the programme for this next year.

Mdu Mtshali (26) has worked closely with choreographer Eric Shabalala’s Shwibeka dance project. “He started in my Stepping Into Dance classes at the Playhouse in 1995,” says Eric. “I am very proud of him, he’s doing tremendous work. His skills have developed a lot and he never stops wanting to learn. He’s very disciplined, honest and reliable and is fully committed and focused. He respects his work.”

Now a full time dancer with a diploma from Technikon Natal (now the Durban Institute of Technology), Mdu is also one of the teachers for FFFDC’s Cato Manor Vibe project.

“He has a really good working relationship with young people,” says FFFDC’s administrator Peter Taylor. “He is able to generate an enthusiasm out of them which has them coming back the following week.”

“I am very happy to get this chance,” says Mdu of his scholarship. “My plan when I come back is to work with those people who did not get a chance to go to London.”

Mdu, who teaches at Crawford College in his spare time, worked with Jay Pather on his successful Cityscapes production. He will present his own piece on the fringe of the Jomba! 2002 contemporary dance festival. For some time, he has been teaching drama and dance through NICRO prison programmes. “Some of the prisoners stood a chance of being released through the influence of my programmes,” he says delightedly. He also toured Europe and West Africa with a French dance production two years ago with Jean-Francois Duroure.

He has one brother and six sisters who are all mainly sports orientated. When he discovered dance he was unsure about whether he should pursue it but well-known choreographer Boyzie Cekwana and his partner dancer Desiree Davids urged him to follow his interests.




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