The award recognises performance and choreographic excellence, but also dance practitioners who have worked tirelessly to help grow a culture of dance and dance training in KwaZulu-Natal and have supported the growth of dance as an art form at both community and regional level.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Artistic Director of JOMBA! and UKZN lecturer Dr Lliane Loots said, ‘This year the award is being given to two incredible dance champions. These amazing individuals have dedicated years of their still-young lives being part of an incredible resurgence and regrowth of dance in Pietermaritzburg, being a powerful nexus for contemporary dance in KZN. Most significantly, they have not done this only in their own work, but have found a way to create a bigger sense of community and of sharing spaces and resources to grow dance – this is what this award is honouring.’
Mbontsi has a BA in Psychology and Drama and Performance Studies, with a focus on dance performance and choreography. He has worked with choreographers and dancers, PJ Sabbagha, Fana Tshabalala, Shanell Winlock and Craig Morris, taught at Maritzburg College for four years and co-founded ReRouted Dance Theatre.
In relation to the award, he runs an outreach youth development project in Pietermaritzburg and Melmoth in association with J.A.W. (Justice and Women). In 2018, he founded the Bonwa Dance Company, which has a strong outreach and dance development programme called the Super Troupers that prides itself on its integrative approach to dance education, performance opportunities and youth empowerment.