Kulise Youth Dance Theatre

In less than two years since inception, Kusile Youth Dance Theatre has signed-up more than 200 learners from various schools in Buffalo City Metro for its flagship creative arts programme.

Conceived in July 2014 as a non-profit organisation by its former Chairperson Simphiwe Given Mba in partnership with Makwedini Film Productions, Kusile is spearheading various community-based cultural tourism programmes in rural areas within the Buffalo City Metro. To date, its creative arts programme has a total of 213 learners from Zanempucuko High School, Nowawe High School, Dongwe Primary School and Thembalesizwe High School.

“Our programmes are aimed at celebrating the rich culture and heritage of the indigenous people of the Eastern Cape province through film productions, stage theatre productions and cultural villages,” says Kusile programme director Aubrey Silinyana.

“Much of our focus in the first year was on the stage theatre piece, Innocent Africa: The Battle of the Sexes. We completed shooting for the production in July 2015, marking our first notable milestone for the 135-member cast comprising learners from Ilitha, Ndevana, Berlin, Tshabo and Dongwe,” explains Silinyana.

The production, to be available on DVD towards the end of the year, is destined for markets as far as Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

“Also in our line-up is an educational feature film based on safe circumcision practises in the Xhosa coming of age ritual. Other planned films will showcase issues related to teenage pregnancy, bullying at school, drug abuse and HIV/AIDS,” adds Silinyana.

Besides film and stage productions, Kusile also plans to establish film and cultural villages that will not only showcase traditional dance, storytelling, poetry and education about the ancient culture of indigenous people; but also include arts and craft production programmes and hospitality industries that will benefit rural economies.

Kusile will also host Ubuhle besiNtu Beauty Contest as part of its Heritage Day celebrations in September.

Other notable highlights in 2015:

  • Conducted drama classes for 65 community health workers from the Small Projects Foundation in Chalumna (Tsholomnqa) and Newlands (Nxarhuni). Participants were taught how to develop plays used to educate rural communities about HIV/AIDS and sexual abuse.
  • Two groups of American exchange students participated in a homestay programme initiated by the School for International Training in partnership with Kusile. The week-long programme is designed to give the Americans an opportunity to immerse in the Xhosa culture.
  • A total of 78 learners from Zanempucuko High School were involved in Kusile’s first theatre production, “Innocent Africa: The Battle of the Sexes”. Staged at the Guild Theatre, the production was well received, with Deputy Minister for Tourism Tokozile Xasa amongst the notable delegates in attendance.
  • Learners from Zanempucuko and Nowawe joined Deputy Minister for Tourism, Tokozile Xasa, in repairing and refurbishing an old man’s house in Mbekweni as part of the Minister’s Mandela Day project.
  • Performed traditional dance, gumboot dance and modern dance at various events. This included the Tshabo Multipurpose Sports Complex ground breaking ceremony in September. Learners from Nowawe High School also performed in a short welcoming ceremony held for the South African Local Government Association CEO, Xolile George.

Want to get involved? Contact Kusile Youth Dance Theatre’s programme director via email: silinyana@gmail.com