Xolisile Bongwana

Senior dancer, Vuyani Dance Theatre

Dancing is the main form of expression for Xolisile Bongwana, allowing him to be “everything I need and want to be in different forms,” he says.

This talented artist has performed in countries around the world.

He always strives for high-quality work and self-improvement, he says, although his work also involves helping others. “I particularly love giving back to underprivileged communities because it is crucial to awaken hope and spark ambition in such environments. I teach dance every week at schools and community groups as an outreach initiative Vuyani Dance Theatre has. I aim to be an inspiration to the community I come from in Port Elizabeth; to show that life is filled with endless possibilities regardless of one’s background.”

He also teaches open classes to the public as part of Vuyani’s work to boost health awareness in the city. Bongwana says these lessons are a fun and affordable way to keep fit and healthy and learn dance at the same time, while possibly uncovering the talented dancers of the future.

“I strive to be the force that changes people’s minds about dance being a career,” he adds. “We need to make people understand that all solutions to social issues can be found through art, because as performers we are able to touch and change lives through what we do. I am grateful to have received a platform to excel in my talents and hope to inspire young people to not tire of finding opportunities to be better and do what they love.”

Bongwana’s dancing career began in 1999 and in 2005 he joined Uphondo Lwe Afrika in Port Elizabeth. He then spent several years with the Dodgy Clutch Company, touring the UK and the US with choreographer Robyn Orlin. He performed in the ANC Centenary Celebration and has worked with James Ngcobo on the theatre show Ketekang. With Vuyani he has performed in numerous festivals in South Africa and New York.

Bongwana is the composer and musical director of Siva, a dance work that has performed in China. He’s an accomplished singer too, and toured with dancer and choreographer Gregory Maqoma as a singer in the production Exit/Exist.

He was recently promoted to the position of production assistant at Vuyani Dance Theatre. — Lesley Stones

Photo: Marijke Willems

Facebook: Xolisile Bongwana