The 41-year old Gugulethu-born Mamela Nyamza was awarded the Standard Bank National Young Artist for the year 2011, Glamour award as best creator, due to her refreshingly innovative choreography and performance in the art of dance. This innovation has just won Nyamza another national award, the IMBOKODO AWARD 2016 in DANCE, an acknowledgment for her immense uplifting artistry work beyond the dance.
Her formal training is in Ballet (Diploma in Ballet: Pretoria Technikon), and related experiences in the Alvin Ailey New York School of Dance in the USA as the visiting scholar, and at the University of Cape Town as visiting fellow at GIPCA in 2012, has encouraged Nyamza to tackle the classical genre of dance, by unapologetically demystifying and deconstructing both the traditional methods and logic of ballet. Her works, “The Meal”, and “Hatched”, and co-created & collaborated work “The Last Attitude”, are such autobiographical pieces that trample on the norms and standards of ballet dance/classics.
Mamela Nyamza is continuing to develop her own artistic practice and performance, by choreographing work-pieces that deal with important political and societal issues of today’s South Africa, works such as “I Stand Corrected” (against homophobia); “Wena Mamela” (against discrimination) and a recently created work called DE-APART-HATE (against intolerance and hate crimes), which has just won Ms Nyamza numerous nominations for numerous awards, such as being nominated for the 2016 BroadwayWorld South Africa Awards: Best Choreography; and, at the 2016 South African Theatre Magazine (SATMag) for Best Production, Best Performer, and Best Choreography. Her latest works Rock to the Core and PHUMA-LANGA are direct artistic confrontational works about interaction and introspection of who we are as people and artists in South Africa.
Her strong belief that art has the power to change the world for the better, has indeed led to her recognition by the Art Fraternity in South Africa and internationally.
Nyamza was currently on the Advisory Panel of Dance for the National Arts Council. Although very critical about the status of art in South Africa, Nyamza is embracing the effort by the South African Government to strengthen the importance of art in South Africa. It is for this reason she will continue to be active within the National Arts Council (NAC) to ensure that art in general and dance in particular, are developed and sustained as part of the broader creative industry, and not just as entertainment.
Nyamza’s vision is to make the performance art sector as a genre of art that convey body politics on all social issues, and not just to entertain. Nyamza’s ultimate goal is to reach the most remote areas of South Africa to unearth young, raw talent in art, especially in the performance arts, which is why she collaborates with The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative right in the rural areas of Mpumalanga.
Nyamza has already started with grass-roots-root work by providing free mentorships to up-and-coming artists. She facilitated that some young unemployed dancers be part of the Baxter Theatre Zabalaza Art Festival in March this year, gives workshops to companies, universities, professional dancers etc Nyamza has had numerous solo shows both in South Africa’s Dance Umbrella, Baxter Dance Festival, Cape Town Fringe, Live Arts festival, My Body my Space Festival, National Arts festival, Jomba Dance Experience, and on continental and international stages such as Senegal, Mali, Chad, Avignon in France, Singapore,USA, Egypt, Cairo, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Slovenia, Italy etc. Ms Nyamza is also represented in a host of media collection, such as Wikipedia, Youtube, Newpaper articles, and a SABC- commissioned documentary on her life.
"My medium of creation is the body. I use the body to express exactly what came to us through the Colonisers. I embody that as if they actually 'gave' that to us as costume. We are still wearing it now and it feels like we are carrying it all the time and it's a wound that you feel like is with you forever; a long passage that does not have an end, or still doesn't have light or a tunnel without light yet. I feel like I am wearing that tunnel. We are still looking for the light that is within the body. But of course the body images will be changed and be challenged by the medium of the fabric and the paintings that surround me." Mamela Nyamza describing her performance Battered Passage as part of INDIGO: Passage to Healing, 2017