The event is held annually at Artscape Theatre.

Jazzart presents an explosive celebration of dance from across the country in Azishe! at Artscape Theatre from 4 to 7 July. Translated from isiZulu, azishe means “let it burn”, the festival name comes from the energy, passion and hunger to succeed that its participants have brought to Jazzart Dance Theatre’s Danscape, now Azishe!,  festival stage since 1999.


“Azishe! offers an opportunity for audiences to enjoy the explosive and breathtaking performances from dancers across the country,” says Azishe! Festival Director and Jazzart choreographer, Mziyanda Mancam.  “The programme this year is a celebration of the various participants’ journeys, expressed through their inspiring different styles of dance. Azishe!  provides a platform for professional dancers to share their work,  while also nurturing emerging companies and creating space for community initiatives that build skills, confidence and empowerment.


“For the first time, we are also proud to present a work performed by two of the groups from Jazzart’s Outreach programme. Titled Umlando, it is choreographed by, Aphiwe Live and Wendy Thoane, both graduates of the Jazzart Training Programme, teachers for Future Line Academy and Gijima Creative Arts respectively. Umlando takes the premise that each individual can only understand their own journey,” says Mziyanda. 


Jazzart Dance Theatre performs three works, Unlimited, choreographed by Mziyanda and featuring the male members of the professional company and trainees, who impressed audiences earlier this year in Destination...Lerato; while Jazzart Dance Theatre Artistic Director Jackie Manyaapelo, choreographs Seya, for the female members. Seya includes an Intern from Plymouth State University, Annamaria Klucevsek.


Shaun Oelf, will perform a solo called You Are Beautiful choreographed by Ina Wichterich-Mogane.  He explores how we perceive our own reflection which is not always the image that other people see. To become a symbol of change, one must truly believe that we are beautiful. Dreamfinders, from Kwa-Zulu Natal, performs Life Architecture, exploring the journey of our daily lives, from the highs and hot summer days, to the lows and cold winter nights, the road is never-ending as each day a new adventure unfolds.


Simphiwe Botile is the founder of Lumanyano Cultural Group in East London. His piece, Ibali Lam,  chronicles his life in the arts expressed through African indigenous dances of the Eastern Cape, backed by a live band with praise singing and performed by dancers from as young as six to 35 years in age. Elbeko by the Daveyton Arts Foundation in Gauteng combines dance with poetry, song and music to capture themes encompassing love, uncertainty, celebration and unity in diversity.


Mziyanda’s Unlimited looks at a dancer’s intentions of connecting the internal with the external, and how gestures can be used as a means of expressing intention of the body and not limiting the conditions of the body. “We explore the constant shifts and changes that happen both within and outside the body,” he says.


Seya, meaning joy, is inspired by the title track of Malian singer, Oumou Sangare’s, album.  “This piece performed by the Jazzart female cast explores ways of honouring women through understanding, healing, joy, celebration and deeper understanding of self,” says Jackie. “With improvisation being Jazzart’s method of finding and creating a dance language, we utilised this to speak the language of Seya, and, in doing so, we continue to celebrate the Jazzart technique.  The piece speaks of individuality and of being grounded in an ever-changing world. ”  The dance is accompanied by the music of Sangare, who is often  called ‘The Songbird of Wassoulou music’ – Wassoulou music is a popular genre of West African music performed mostly by women  highlighting women’s issues.


The Jazzart work presented on opening night will be danced by the Trainees only, the company will join them on stage from the 5 July when they return from the National Arts Festival.


Jazzart Dance Theatre marks its fortieth birthday this year and is one of South Africa’s longest-standing and most celebrated dance companies. It is a non-profit organisation, which through its three tiers, not only produces award-winning, innovative dance productions featuring the professional company, but also aims to transform society through its Trainee and Outreach Programmes.


The company’s most recent production, Biko’s Quest, was created and presented in collaboration with The Steve Biko Centre. It is being presented on the Main Programme at the National Arts Festival and was named by Debbie Hathway in the Cape Times as one of the top five dance productions of 2012. Azishe! is directed by Mziyanda Mancam, with lighting by Shamiel Abrahams;  sound by Liam Cookson; costume and set design by Linda Mandela.