Description: In 1991, CAPAB's (now Cape Town Ballet) principal dancer, Philip Boyd, recognized that the company lacked African dancers and that there was no training system for the poor and disadvantaged youth. He then began Ballet for All in the Cape Town township of Gugelethu, training 34 students in ballet. By 1995, different styles of dance were incorporated and the company became Dance For All (DFA). By 2006, 500 students are being taught ballet, African contemporary, music theatre, tap and Spanish dance in the outreach program. In addition to the outreach program, which now holds dance classes in Gugulethu, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, and Athlone, DFA also offers both Junior and Senior Training Programs for the serious dancers, as well as a Youth Company and an annual "Stepping Out" tour. While the training programs offer serious training for aspiring dancers to find careers in dance, the outreach program offers a fun, positive, after-school activity that helps strengthen youths' confidence, self discipline, self esteem and life skills, while keeping them from less productive activities. Until 2002 when it became an independent section-21 company, it had been supported by the David Poole Trust under the financial management of the CAPAB. Since then it has been supported by various government agencies and private funding. Buchanan Boyes has supported the Senior Training Program for three years, including high school scholarships for the 22 students. The National Arts Council has been supporting the "Stepping Out" tour for the last 4 years and the National Lotteries Board has been funding the youth company. Additional funding comes from the Western Cape Cultural Commission, the city of Cape Town, and other private patrons, such as the Floridan Foundation and the Ackerman Family Trust, which most recently purchased a building in Athlone to serve as a base for DFA. DFA also has creative relationships with the Jazzart Dance and la Rose Spanish theatres.
Innovation: DFA's innovative approach is to strive for social change and empowerment through a positive daily activity. As a program for all, it is mostly just a fun activity to keep children engaged and learning after school, but for some it can be an opening to a new career and some amazing potential new art. DFA sees dance as a positive social tool for raising all children and for some, a means to employment and careers they might not otherwise have access to.
Effectiveness: DFA reaches 500 students on a weekly basis. It also currently trains 41 in the Junior and 12 in the Senior Training Programs. Through DFA, 17 former students have attained fulltime dance employment. 4 as DFA full time teachers, 5 in DFA's Youth Company, and 8 as members of national and international dance companies. Funding is consistent and the program is well established.
Poverty Impact: In the townships there is little by way of positive activities for youth to take part in and thus many could fall pray to gangs or other negative role models. DFA offers positive after-school activities that could strengthen children's discipline and self-esteem. Meanwhile 22 students in the Senior Training Course have received high school scholarships and 17 former students have found full time dance related employment.
Sustainability: The project depends heavily on short-term grants. Though they are consistent, they don't allow for long-term planning. The recent donation of a building in Athlone will provide for an administrative head as well as a storefront location where commercial classes could be taught, thereby ensuring a consistent income. All proceeds from the Youth Company and tours is reinvested back into DFA.
Replication: The first replication attempt has been successful in the Moving Arts project, started in association with Totally Free, in the rural area of Barrydale. There, in the last year, classes have grown to 300 children per week. Replication, with funds and available teaching personal should be possible in all parts of the country. Teachers graduating from DFA training courses could most likely be made available, further increasing employment.