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The 13th annual Baxter Dance Festival is back to wow audiences with over 64 new pieces by 73 choreographers over a period of 8 days. Headlining this year’s festival is the commissioned work by choreographer, dancer and teacher Themba Mbuli of the acclaimed Sold! and Adagio for a hacked life.

This year opens with two performances by the acclaimed Moving Into Dance Mophatong from Johannesburg on Thursday 5 October and Friday 6 October 2017 at 8pm. As one of the first mixed-race dance companies, Moving into Dance (MID) has become a leading Contemporary African dance company, at the forefront of Afrofusion and Edudance styles. MID has become internationally recognised as a significant developmental organisation and professional dance company with international acclaim.

Among the list of dance companies showcasing their work at the Baxter Dance Festival this year are companies such as Cape Dance Company, Dance For All, Eoan group School of Performing Arts, JazzArt Dance Theatre, the Kirvan Fortuin Company, La Rosa, New World Dance Theatre and Taare, each with their unique style and fresh take on the art of dance.

The 2017 Baxter Dance Festival consists of the Main Programme which will include invited and commissioned works, as well as work by recognized professional choreographers and companies and runs for the entire festival. The Off-Main Programme, on Saturday, 7 October, will showcase the work by up-and-coming choreographers (including student work), and the Fringe Programme on Saturday, 15 October, will include work by youth groups, dance schools, school groups, traditional dance groups and others.Especially exciting this year is the commissioned work for this year’s festival. Each year the Baxter invites dance makers to apply for the commissioned work. This year the Baxter has shaken things up by inviting individual dancers to audition to be part of the commissioned work with acclaimed choreographer, dancer and teacher Themba Mbuli.

Mbuli is the 2016 Standard Bank Young Award recipient and has been performing for 17 years, graduating with a certificate in performing arts in 2017. Mbuli is an associate artistic manager and a co-founder – together with Fana Tshabalala and Thulani Chauke – of Broken Borders Arts Project. He is also a co-founder and the choreographer and artistic director of the Unmute Dance Company (UNMUTE), which was formed in 2014 to help pioneer integrated dance in South Africa, using the arts to inspire the inclusion of people with disabilities in society.

Previous choreographers of the commissioned work are Ebrahim Medell (2005), Marlin Zoutman (2006), collaborators Yarisha Singh and Celeste Botha (2007), Levern Botha (2008), Mamela Nyamza (2009), Carolyn Holden from La Rosa Spanish Dance Theatre (2010), Grant van Ster (2011), Ananda Fuchs (2012), Steven van Wyk and Thalia Laric in 2014 and Louise Coetzer of Darkroom Contemporary in 2016. These choreographers have continued to excel in and influence the world of dance, both locally and abroad.

Since its inception in 2004, more than 500 local choreographers have showcased their work at the festival, featuring some 4 000 dancers from more than 400 studios, dance schools, projects and professional companies from across the Western Cape, presenting an range of dance styles and genres including contemporary, classical, African, modern and Spanish.

As the premier dance event of its kind in the Western Cape, the Baxter Dance Festival has become a must-see platform for studios, companies, choreographers and dance-enthusiasts. Notwithstanding its limited funding, the festival continues to grow significantly each year, making it the ideal festival to experience the diversity and enormous dance talent in the province. This year the line-up is set to thrill and entertain any dance lover or enthusiast, with a wide variety of genres and styles.

The Baxter Dance Festival aims to create opportunities for emergent and recognized dance companies and choreographers to present their work, while nurturing and promoting the diverse dance talent in the Western Cape. The festival creates the ideal environment to experience and see work by established professionals, as well as exciting up-and-coming dance practitioners.

“We continue to be blown away by the on-going support and encouragement we received from local dance communities in the city, province and beyond. This support shows particularly in the growing number of applications and participants we receive each year,” says Nicolette Moses, artistic director of the Baxter Dance Festival and associate producer and planning manager at the Baxter Theatre Centre.

“As encouraging as the support from the dance community is, so too is the support of our sponsors- Tsogo Sun and the National Arts Council- who not only understand the role of their assistance in shaping the lives of aspiring dancers but also recognise the impact that this particular festival has on the local dance landscape. We continue to encourage sponsors from the private and public sectors to join us in growing what is the largest dance event in our province.”

Booking for the 2017 Baxter Dance Festival is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. For discounted school or group block bookings, fundraisers or charities contact Sharon Ward on 021 680 3962 or email or Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or email her at

The full programme may be viewed online at or on Theatre.

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