My Body My Space Festival wraps up in Machadodorp

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A festival on the move was on display this weekend in the streets of Machadodorp in Mpumalanga. My Body My Space is a dance art festival, taking place in strategic landmarks across the sleepy town.

The festival is back on the streets after it went online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The small town of Machadodorp came alive this weekend after the My Body My Space Festival returned to the streets.

In 2021, the festival was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s festival themed “Sibuyel’emphakathini” or “We are back in the community” focuses on artistic works curated around human rights issues. It includes art, sculpture, dance and drama.

Speaking on behalf of the organisers, PJ Sabbagah, says they started the festival by conducting workshops aimed at educating specifically children, youth, and people with disabilities about the industry.

“Pre-COVID-19, the festival was beginning to grow. Our live festival was in 2019 and was huge and it surpassed all expectations – early beginning to attract visitors from all over the country and more and more international artists. Of course, the pandemic has had a devastating effect on industries, especially the performing arts. We migrated to a WhatsApp platform in 2021. And this is the first return to the streets version of the festival. So, it is quite small in kind of where we were in 2016. But there’s a lot of excitement and optimism around the festival.”

Performances took place in various sites such as traffic intersections, taxi ranks, under trees, and in driveways.

Smangaliso Ngwenya says his performance was telling a story about mourning his mother who passed on in 2013.

“I think the dance in South Africa has been going into different levels of life, the apps and down. Obviously, the problem relies on the government for funding. And also if you talk about it as a career, dance is a career but unfortunately, especially in our black families, we don’t consider dance as a career. So, for me, it has been a long journey of about 30 years. So, it has been quite a long journey.”