Dada Masilo / Dance Factory Johannesburg

The organization was established in 1992, in Johannesburg, South Africa, with the primary aim of creating a home for dance. In 1994, it moved from temporary accommodation to a renovated bus repair warehouse, where it now has a large studio and a 220 seat theatre. Based in the city centre, it is accessible to dancers and audiences from town and township. Between 1993 and 2001, The Dance Factory coordinated 9 annual dance festivals for Arts Alive, a project of the City of Johannesburg. These festivals were a platform for a wide range of dance : quality international guests such as Donald Byrd/The Group (New York), Rosas (Brussels), Scapino Ballet (Rotterdam), professional dance companies from across South Africa, tertiary dance programmes, community dance groups, youth groups – covering styles ranging from classical ballet to gumboot, from physical theatre to pantsula. The festivals also offered training to young aspirant theatre technicians, many of whom are now stalwarts within the profession. The participation of township youth groups (selected by audition), brought to The Dance Factory, many highly talented young people. One such, was the 11 year old Dada Masilo, with the Soweto-based youth group, The PeaceMakers. At the request of group leaders, The Dance Factory instituted a programme of formal training. For a good 10 years, this was primarily funded by The Royal Netherlands Embassy. What began as a once a week project, developed into an intensive 7 days a week programme, where up to 60 under 18s received training in ballet and contemporary dance and performed works by South Africa’s best emergent choreographers. The Dance Factory also accessed funding for formal education at the National School of the Arts and other establishments which offered quality academic tuition. Of course, many youngsters could not stay the course, but those who remained were assisted, on leaving school, to continue their training both in South Africa and abroad. On leaving the Performing Arts Research and Training Studios in Brussels, Dada Masilo returned to The Dance Factory, where she became Artist-in-Residence. As such, she had access to the studio and theatre and received technical and administrative support in order to develop her career.