University of Johannesburg (UJ) students showcased their dancing and singing abilities to a live audience and a panel of judges who are well-respected in the performing arts industry.
Nolwazi Sikonela, a second year UJ building science student, and Reggie Nkosana Hufkie, a fourth year transportation management student, have been crowned the winners of ‘UJ Can You Dance?’ and ‘UJ Can You Sing?’ respectively.
“In addition to our public-facing performing arts programme, which sees us creating, presenting and touring productions, these competitions are our flagship student arts platforms,” says Ashraf Johaardien, Head of UJ Arts & Culture. “They enable us to identify and nurture talent on all four UJ campuses and to give participants the opportunity to train with emerging and established Pan-African and international artists.”
Sikonela had this to say about the experience: “It’s been crazy! From the online auditions to the bootcamps to the night of the final show, I have learned so much and I loved every minute of it. This has definitely been a phenomenal experience … #WeLoveDance!” Her words of inspiration are, “Why wait for tomorrow to do what you love when you can do it today?”
“One of my goals this year was to be fearless and tackle everything I do to the best of my abilities. It started with me jumping into the pool after not swimming for years, and later in the year I saw myself entering UJ Can You Sing. I knew it was going to be a great platform so I committed from the very start, even though this was my first singing competition,” said an emotional Hufkie who also currently plays a role on the television series High Rollers. “As a youngster who didn’t have much of a support-system in terms of arts, this competition helped me believe in my gift much more and it groomed me into an individual performer in a matter of months! I have to mention that with God, nothing is impossible.”
Prizes included cultural bursaries, branded UJ gear, UJ gym memberships, artist management contracts, iPads and of course, bragging rights.
The top ten finalists all walked away with a cultural bursary to the value of R1 000. The top three each received R2 500 with the winner walking away with a grand prize of R5000. Other price items included premium gym memberships sponsored by the UJ Gymnasium, a sports goody bag, UJ Can You dance branded gear, branded selfie sticks and iPad minis. The winners also won a one year artist management contract from Andre Dellow of the Fourth Wall agency.
UJ Arts & Culture’s Producer, Grace Meadows (who also served on the Can You Dance? adjudication panel), says: “Both competitions comprised online auditions and rigorous boot camps over a period of nine months to identify the top ten in each discipline. The final rounds for each took place in UJ Arts Centre Theatre in front of packed live audiences on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 October.”
Other dance judges were internationally acclaimed choreographer and head judge of Seasons 1, 2 and 3 of So You Think You Can Dance, Harold Van Buuren and Lesedi Mpho “Leash” Mabena who recently competed in the fourth annual All-Style battles World Hip-Hop International Championships 2015. The project was co-ordinated and facilitated by UJ Arts & Culture Associate choreographer, Kieron Jina.
The judging panel for the ‘Can You Sing?’ final round comprised Yamaha-endorsed guitarist, producer, composer and writer Simphiwe Kulla of The Muffinz; singer, pianist, violinist and actress, Bianca Le Grange and DALRO Theatrical Rights supervisor, Writer, producer, voice artist and director, Andre Dellow. The project was co-ordinated and facilitated by UJ Arts & Culture Associate musical director, Daniel Geddes.
‘UJ Can You Dance?’ and ‘UJ Can You Sing?’ were presented as part of UJ Arts & Culture’s EVOLUTION X programme to celebrate 10 years of UJ. The programme wraps on 23 October with a UJ Alumni Celebration concert in the Sanlam Auditorium on the Kingsway Campus. For more information please email email@example.com