Danza - Dolores Mayán

Danza - Dolores Mayán
Escuela BSdanza

2008 International Dance Day Message

"Working with disabled people and seeing how much they can accomplish inspires me to make the world better".

Creating choreographed shows that portray the lives of disabled people will promote

"inclusivity" and "independence".

Gladys Faith Agulhas

The Spirit of Dance has No colour, No selected shape or size
But Embraces the Power of Unity, Strength,
And Beauty found within us.
Each Dancing Soul, Young, Old, person living with a disABILITY
Creates and transforms ideas into life changing moving Art.
Dance is the mirror reflecting the impossible made possible.
For all to touch, hear, feel and experience.
Sounds from our hearts and Soul is our rhythm,
Our every move reveals the history of mankind.
It is the element where the Human Spirit can embrace the ultimate
Whenever our hands touch, something beautiful happens,
What the Soul remembers, the body portrays through movement.
Dance is therefore the healing force for all to access,
You are my eyes and I am your feet.
Use your Passion for Dance to heal each other,
Unify your dance community,
Most importantly be the Best that you can be in your Own Right,
We are able to stand unified through the Power and Spirit of Dance.

Gladys Faith Agulhas

Every year since 1982, the International Theatre Institute (ITI), in association with UNESCO and a Permanent Delegation to UNESCO, has presented International Dance Day on 29 April. On this occasion, a message from a well-known dance personality is disseminated worldwide as means of celebrating this art form and revel in its universality, bridging all political, ethnic and cultural barriers and bringing people together in peace and friendship with a common message.

This year, the International Dance Day Message will be delivered via video by Ms Gladys Faith Agulhas, a renowned South African modern dancer and choreographer. Ms Agulhas is closely involved in developing and teaching modern dance in her country, where she works with disadvantaged communities and develops the skills of disabled dancers.

Two South African modern dancers, one of whom is disabled, will dance for some 150 invited guests, and a short documentary film on Ms Agulhas’s work will also be shown. Another message will be delivered by Ms Ilona Copen, Executive Director of the New York International Ballet Competition and President of the International Dance Committee, ITI/UNESCO.

The event is organized by the International Dance Committee and the South African Permanent Delegation to UNESCO in co-operation with the International Theatre Institute (ITI).


Dancing for independence

Although Agulhas says she teaches dance for the love of art and "to invent interesting new things", she adds that there is a political message behind the company.

Creating choreographed shows that portray the lives of disabled people will promote "inclusivity" and independence. "Society wants disabled people to beg," she says, flexing her muscular arms. "They [society] don't want disabled people to be independent; they want disabled people to rely on them."

Although people are sympathetic, they are not giving disabled people the tools they need to be independent, says Agulhas. "Through dance we can show that disabled people are capable of working. It's saying you [the disabled person] can do it."


Founder/Choreographer/Dance Practitioner and independent performer, nominee for the Daimler Chrysler Contemporary Choreography Award 2003. Gladys studied Ballet at a young age at Albertus Pop recreation centre in Eldorado Park south of Johannesburg. She continued her Dance training and teaching at the Johannesburg Dance Foundation where she completes her 3 year intensive course. Ex-senior dancer for the former Johannesburg Dance Theatre.


People with disabilities and social exclusion

Johannesburg has a population of people with disability who face both physical
and social exclusion. These barriers of exclusion are evident in access to
education, employment and physical access to transport. Along with prejudice
against those with a disability in general, there are also negative attitudes
associated with such people. People with disability are often invisible to City
governments and most especially if they are poor.

Despite the large number of disabled people living in South Africa -- five million, and more than 80-million on the African continent -- few services and opportunities exist for them to participate equally in society. Many are unemployed and live off a monthly disability .


She won her first FNB Vita AWARD in 1990 and was recipient of the Women's Day Award in Eldorado Park for the promotion of Arts in the community. Agulhas has a long history of involvement with Dance in Education, and is co-founder of the Kliptwon Arts Foundation a community arts project based in Eldorado Park, was involved in teaching at various institutions and companies in Gauteng.

Agulhas also played a mayor role in the facilitating of Outreach programmes for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre during they visit to schools and community centres in Johannesburg.

(The State Theatre Dance Company and the shaping of
contemporary dance in South Africa)

First Prize reception of the Department of Arts and

(Woman of Substance)

National Award 2007.


"Over past 7 years ATW has implemented strategic programmes changing the attitudes of persons with disabilities towards themselves from one of dependency to independency and the ability to recognize their rights, changing the publics stereotypes and perception of their abilities
and also the contributory role of persons with disability in our communities using the power of Dance".


Agulhas's dancers all agree that one of the hardest parts of being

disabled is living amid taunts and unfair treatment. Dancing is just one

way of countering people's ignorant attitudes.

Sompane says she doesn't take what people say to heart. "If you say

something mean to me, you're just building me as a person and you don't

even know it."


Agulhas Theatre Works participates in international arts festivals, collaborative projects, and charity performances. They are available to do pre- and after performance talks, and workshops on inclusive contemporary dance (working with people with different physical abilities). They offer skills transfer programmes to arts and culture teachers, community leader and others and is very pro active in awareness programmes. Their work is now expanding and is starting to make a difference both nationally and even internationally.

"Nothing but an echo of the past", présentée en février 1999 au Wits Theatre de Joannesburg.(FNB Vita Dance Umbrella)
-"Meetings on the Edge" présentée en solo au Wits Theatre de Joannesburg présenté (FNB Vita Dance Umbrella) le 30 mars 2001
-"Making Movement visible" présentée par 3 danseurs le 10 novembre 2001 au Dance Factory à Johannesburg
-"Strings" présentée au Dance Factory de Johannesburg en Février 2000
-"A card" présentée au S.A. Women's Festival le 11 septembre 2001 au Playhouse à Durban.


She teaches at various institutions and
companies. She was involved in Shuttle 99, Dance
Education Ex-change programme between the Nordic
countries and South Africa. .
Agulhas has studied Integrated Contemporary Dance
Teaching in London and Switzerland with renowned
teacher/Independent Artist Adam Benjamin (Pretending to be Something, Now Coming from Nothing”, "Tshwaragano Dance Project"),
has presented ‘Solo” works nationally and
internationally. She presented a paper in
collaboration with Remix Dance Project at the
Confluence Conference on Choreography with
Physical Challenged Dancers.
In 2002 she presented a “Referees Society Special
Training Programme” for the Golden Lions Rugby
Union Academy. Agulhas premiered an international
collaboration with artist Louise Katerega(UK) funded
by FNB Vita Dance Umbrella and Arts Council of
England during the FNB Vita Dance Umbrella 2003.
ATW performed at the opening of the 2003 disABILTY
Consultative Conference ACCESS-AWARENESS -ARTS
in JHB, and presented Integrated Workshops.
Agulhas is a proud member of World Dance Alliance
Europe and of WoVA (Women’s Voice Arts Africa) In
2004 - 2007 ATW travelled, performed and
conducted integrated workshops in Switzerland (SouthAfrica 10 years democracy celebrations) Holland , Denmark and Sweden.


Dignity at core of disability event

(City of Johannesburg website and artzone.co.za
November 2007 - Joburg)

The Disability Festival will focus on the social challenges and isolation many disabled people face.

ATW will work with theatre practitioner and puppeteer Stacey Rozen, who "inspires" the children to develop artwork in the form of puppets. "Through puppets the children are not differentiated into able-bodied and disabled participants but are all united as artists and performers."

The Festival aims to promote

creativity, independence, dignity and community integration.

Annual International living independently dis-Ability Lifestyle Exhibition 2008


The beauty of body and movement

Together with Adam McKinney (US) Gladys Agulhas created a new choreography for the Afrovibes festival (2007) in theatres in Amsterdam and The Hague. 'Encounters", with dancers from two SA dance companies: Agulhas Theatre Works and Vuyani Dance Theatre Company.

Giving another face to physical disabilities : (2007)

"Sometimes people just go: 'What is this?'
"It's a mindset, most people think it's not supposed to be here."
"It's an abstract from the whole piece which shows audiences another way to encounter dance with the physically disabled."
"The response was very positive and it's been so successful."
"It allows me to do so much more, break boundaries."
"Last year, on International Disability Day, we opened a show for people to see the possibilities and have a different audience come in."
"We want to show that the theatre isn't only for able bodies and see what more openings we can allow."
"At our workshops there's no discrimination, we go in with no preconceptions."
"We work and move together without looking at physical ability."
"You have to know you can create more beautiful movement, rhythm and speed with the capabilities of your natural body."
"I want to use my talent to make an impact on lives and make people see each other as people. We are all dancing beings with our heartbeats as the rhythm. Dance is a feeling, it's spiritual, it's all that which is living."
"We need to explore where disabled and contemporary dance fits in."
I just know that my experience of working with disabled people and seeing how much they can accomplish inspires me to make the world better."
In day-to-day life those of us who think we have healthy, perfect bodies constantly recoil from the disabled. Here, the choreography produces the opposite effect.

'Gifted dancers show disability is only a mental obstacle'.(Sunday World)
'Agulhas is aware that crafting skills is part of making dance works. She succesfully uses form and content in a holistic way to underpin her work, a subtle visually textured dance…'
(Mail & Guardian)
'..a unique artistic dance piece that incorporates artistic skills with physical disabilities'
(Cue - Grahamstown Festival)


Agulhas, a powerful, radiant, presence on the stage, has been working with dancers of varied abilities and disabilities, professional and amateur, for many years. She says dance itself is therapy, a kind of leveller, a way of seeking perfection through the many imperfections we all share, whatever our physical condition. In performance, as in this latest production, it is also a dramatic way of illustrating the many daily encounters we have, how we react to them, and how differently we could relate to them if we were prepared to open ourselves to the idea of a common humanity.


Gladys Agulhas is seen as one of the best South African dance has to offer, demonstrating that women are making a major stand as choreographers and assertive creative dancers in South Africa. Encounters is an expressive
sparkling dance work that expresses the beauty of being different and the need to built a society that is really equal. Encounters explores the various emotional and physical life journeys of people with different physical abilities. Six dancers search for the unlimited possibilities of the human body and tell in various explorative duets and group journeys their own individual stories with their bodies. The body which speaks its own language, which we sometimes can control, sometimes are being controlled by it, which feels, smells, touches, listens. What makes this dance work special is two of the dancers are physically disabled and integrated in the company and choreoraphy.

Gladys Agulhas made a number of special choreographies incorporating artistic skills with physical disabilities, showing disability is only a mental obstacle to perceive the beauty of body and movement.


"All start with ones self, the body,
it speaks of who we are?
Where we are going
And how we move,
We are finding new attachment or want to detach ourselves from suffering,
while embracing others and creating changes"

Dia Internacional de la Danza 2008



Physical Address with Louise Katerega
mixing dance with video and featuring two professional disabled dancers)

Beyond Barrier of Dance Abilities

The primary focus of
Agulhas Theatre Works is to demonstrate that a physical disability
is not a barrier in the dance world.

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