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Ms Thabile Buthelezi.

Masters student in Applied Ethnomusicology at UKZN, Ms Thabile Buthelezi, is the first South African student to receive the prestigious Choreomundus: International Master in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage Scholarship.

Choreomundus is an Erasmus Mundus programme that investigates dance and other movement systems (ritual practices, martial arts, games and physical theatre) as intangible cultural heritage. It is offered by a consortium of four universities in Norway, France, Hungary and the UK recognised for their leadership in the development of innovative curricula for the analysis of dance. 

‘I am truly honoured to receive such a prestigious scholarship,’ said Buthelezi. ‘For me it means that my hard work ethic is being recognised not only nationally but internationally, and I hope the award open doors for other students like me,’ said Buthelezi.

She was initially encouraged to apply by her supervisor and UKZN Lecturer, Dr Patricia Opondo. ‘A colleague of mine, Professor Egil Bakka from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, asked me to nominate a deserving student to participate in this upcoming cycle of the Choreomundus programme,’ said Opondo.

‘They wanted to have one or two participants from South Africa this year. I did not hesitate to nominate Thabile as she has stood out in the UKZN African Music and Dance (AMD) programme for four years including choreographing pieces for the AMD touring ensemble, Ikusasa Lethu. I believe she will excel in this programme.’

Said Buthelezi: ‘Being awarded this scholarship will assist me by teaching me the methodologies needed to preserve our culture and heritage.’

Buthelezi will be taught ethnochoreological research methodologies that she will apply to her research and also share those concepts and ideas when she returns to South Africa in 2017, both at the University level and at the National Arts and Culture level.

‘I will not only become a better performer but I will have relevant knowledge that I would be able to share in the future for the better of our creative economy,’ she said.

Buthelezi has already departed for Norway on a three-week orientation programme before spending 12 months in France, six months in Hungary and six months in London where she will graduate at the Roehampton University in June 2017.

Her advice to other performing arts students is: ‘You are never too far from your dreams, the only thing keeping you away from them is sitting and waiting for something to happen when you could create your own opportunities or other alternative ways of reaching those dreams.’

* Buthelezi, who has been performing for more than 10 years, started her career at the Kwa-Mashu Community Advancement Project (K-CAP) in 2000. She has travelled abroad as part of international cultural exchange programmes and is involved in various activities in the performing arts sector.