Two of the top three winners in the 2014 ACT | DALRO | Nedbank Performing Arts Scholarship competition, held at the University of Johannesburg Arts Centre last night, are from the Eastern Cape with one, Usisipho Nteyi from Alexander Road High School in Port Elizabeth.
Second placed R105 000 award winner Usisipho Nteyi won the Best Actress Award for the play Mistaken at Alexander Road High School in Port Elizabeth in 2011. The following year she appeared in the musical Evita, directed by Robin Williams and choreographed by Candice Johnstone. She went on to dance in To The Pointe and Queen of Dance and also appeared in a number of musicals and plays, among others Back to the 80’s, Hairspray, Honk and Noises Off!
East London’s winner, Mbasa Soga who won R60 000, has been nurturing his passion for dance by learning hip hop, tap, modern dance and ballet since the age of eight. He participated in numerous dance competitions and productions. He is an Advanced Modern Dance, Silver Higher Tap and Advanced 2 Ballet student through the Association of International Dance Teachers. Mbasa is currently completing grade eight at a practical level for flute through the Royal Schools of Music. He is a Grade 12 learner from Selborne College in East London.
Overall winner of R150 000, Katlego Nche completed Grade twelve in 2013 and is currently an active member of the Mayibuye Arts Centre in Kimberley. Katlego was one of three dancers who won first place in the Kemoja Festival’s dance competition last year. In 2014, he was selected to perform at the 20 Years of Democracy Reversing the History exhibition and had the privilege of working with Bheki Ndlovu. He also performed the role of Sir Albert Luthuli as well as Sipho Makhaya in Dr John Kani’s Nothing but the Truth and is a member of the local choir.
The top three finalists together shared R315 000 to fund their tertiary studies in the performing arts.
After a gruelling week of rehearsals and a tough final round in front of a live audience, Katlego Nche, Usisipho Nteyi and Mbasa Soga were chosen as recipients of the ACT | DALRO | Nedbank Performing Arts Scholarships for 2014. Having convinced the judges of their proficiency in singing, dancing and acting Katlego Nche, Usisipho Nteyi and Mbasa Soga will be supported in their tertiary studies, beginning in 2015.
Sydney Nhlanhla Mbhele, Divisional Executive of Group Marketing at Nedbank says, “On behalf of everyone at Nedbank and our Arts Affinity clients; I would like to congratulate the 2014 recipients of the ACT Scholarships Programme. We are inspired by your talent and passion and we believe that you will continue to Make Things Happen.”
2014 has been a peak year for the awards. The scholarship award total has increased from R75 000 in 2009 to R315 000 in 2014, and so has the amount of scholars who have participated from 75 participants in 2009 to 184 in 2014. This year was the first year the rounds were completed in Kimberley and Nelspruit, added to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein from the previous years. Six finalists were chosen through a country-wide audition process, and then coached by a dedicated team of professionals, before putting their best foot forward in front of an illustrious panel of judges, and – possibly the biggest critics of all – a live audience.
With support from the Arts Culture Trust; the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO) and Nedbank Arts Affinity, the three winners will have the opportunity to study a performing arts course at an accredited South African tertiary institution of their choice. They will also receive practical support beyond their studies, including representation by SA’s top talent agency Talent Etc.
“DALRO is incredibly proud and honoured to be involved in this programme. It’s one thing to sit in the audience and see a performer offer you a little bit of magic- where you get to witness their passion pouring out from their soul, but what’s even more gratifying, is when you know that you helped somebody get there,” says Andre Cloete Supervisor for Theatrical Rights at DALRO.
The slick production was crafted by industry professionals Jacques Bessenger (Artistic Director), Franco Prinsloo (Musical Director) and Charlie van Rooyen (choreographer). Hosted by Palesa Malebo, a passionate 22-year-old from Sasolburg, Zamdela content producer and presenter on VUT FM. Palesa’s radio show, Midnight Explosion, is live on VUT FM every Sunday.
How have these awards been springboards for careers in the arts? Sven Ruygrok was a finalist in 2009, shortly before he was cast in the film Spud as Robert ‘Rambo’ Black. Pallance Dladla, now a popular actor who stars in the 2014 Durban International Film Festival opening film Hard To Get, was a finalist in 2010. Tanielle Powel appeared in the Janice Honeyman pantomime in 2012 Jack and the Beanstalk after participating as a finalist in 2011 and is now studying abroad. Amanda Kunene, being a recent recipient of the award in 2012, has been selected to perform at the ANCA Gala Awards in Bangkok at the end of this year.
CEO of the Arts and Culture Trust, Pieter Jacobs, thanked the judges for lending their expert opinions to the programme, explaining that: “It is incredibly important for us at the Arts Culture Trust that Scholarships recipients have the potential not only to excel as artists but that they are savvy business people who are able to make a living from their craft and we are extremely grateful to this year’s judges for accepting the difficult task of identifying this year’s recipients.”
The 2014 panel of judges comprised: Manager of Talent Etc Jennis Williamson, television personality Nolo Phiri, dance guru Gregory Maqoma, accomplished musician and former SA Idols finalist Bianca Le Grange and arts and business consultant Trish Downing.
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