Top dancer returns

05 January 2008

Gerard Samuel

Home again: Renowned dancer Gerard Samuel is the new head of dance at UCT.

Newly appointed head of department and, in effect, director of UCT's School of Dance, Gerard Samuel, sees his latest position as a "fresh adventure", and given that he is a UCT alumnus, something of a homecoming.

Samuel studied at UCT in the early 1980s, requiring special permission to study here as a black student. When he graduated in 1984 with a diploma in ballet, he was arguably the first classical dancer from the Indian community to qualify from a professional ballet company.

Much of Samuel's work has been with the Playhouse Company in Durban, where he served as everything from performer to choreographer, administrator to education and development manager, and finally as the right hand to the company's director.

He has been involved in a string of initiatives with the Playhouse, notably in his work with children and youth, and, his speciality, dance programmes for disabled dancers-areas he brought together in a children's theatre production titled Who says, The Ugly Duckling?

"Essentially, the question I raised was about who it is that can and cannot dance."

Samuel did similar work in Denmark, where he was based, on and off for eight or nine years.

And now he's back at UCT, where he wants to introduce a new generation of students to the area of disability theatre.

"I'm very interested in pursuing the development of a new curriculum at the School of Dance, and widening the notion of dance," he says. "I want to start the theoretical discussion around the subject of dance and the disabled."

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