residencies / Jay Pather Biography

Obtained Honours degrees in Literature and Drama from the University of Durban-Westville, a Performance Diploma from Trinity College, London, and an MA from New York University where he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to research Dance Theatre.

Currently director of Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre, he has been Resident Choreographer for Jazzart, Course coordinator for Community Arts Project, the New Africa Theatre and at the University of Cape Town, and Senior Lecturer at the University of Zululand and the Durban Institute of Technology. He currently serves as External Examiner for Masters Students for the Universities of Kwa Zulu Natal and Cape Town.

Pather has directed and choreographed over one hundred productions nationally as well as internationally in India, Angola, Madagascar, London, Germany, Australia, Sri Lanka and New York. His recent work has involved collaborations with visual artists such as Jo Ractliffe, Thando Mama, Jan Henry Booyens, Virginia MacKenny, Usha Seejarim, Greg Streak, Angela Buckland and Storm Janse van Rensburg. These have been in CityScapes at the Durban and Johanesburg Art Galleries, State of Grace at the NSA Gallery , Home and NightScapes.

Last year he created works for the World Social Forum in Mumbaai, India, the Its Festival in Amsterdam (Don't Play with your Food) , for the Festival of Dhow Countries in Zanzibar and in September, for the Personal Affects Exhibition in New York at the Cathedral of St John the Divine and the Museum for African Art.

A recipient of several regional FNB Vita Awards for Best Choreography, Pather has also conceived and directed a range of commissioned works. These include A South African Siddhartha and Home commissioned by the National Arts Festival, Laws of Recall, Forked Tongues and High Art for the Jomba! Contemporary Dance Festival, CityScapes and Thathamachance for Dance Umbrella and Ahimsa Ubuntu commissioned by Sonia Gandhi and the South African High Commission in India.

Pather was also commissioned to open the Interface Festival of Theatre and Dance in London and invited as one of ten African choreographers to present work at the Sanga 11/ Danse en Creations Festival in Madagascar. Most recently, Pather received a Brett Kebble Art Award for his installation performance 'Kitchen' and was also commissioned to choreograph a new work 'Blue Point' for the Award Ceremony. His most recent project has been a commission he has received from the FNB Dance Umbrella to create a full length work entitled “The Beautiful Ones must be born” which was performed at the Constitution Hill in Johannesburg and at the International Writers Festival in Durban.

Pather has created large scale works for events such as the Openings of the Commonwealth Heads of State Conference, the World Economic Forum and the International Convention Centre. In 2000 he coordinated the Performing Arts Programme for the XIII International AIDS Conference. He also conceived and directed the Closing Ceremonies for this event.

Pather has delivered numerous addresses and papers including the Confluences Dance Conference as Keynote Speaker, the Culture and Resistance Conference in Harlem, at the British Institute in London; at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and at the L'Afrique en Creations Conference hosted by AFAA in Lille, France.

In 1994, he was appointed on the National Arts and Culture Task Group to develop arts legislation. He has been executive member of the Advisory and State Theatre Board appointed by the Minister of Arts and Culture, is a Trustee on the Board of the Arts and Culture Trust of the President and has recently returned from Havana where he served on a government delegation investigating cultural exchange with Cuba.
Jay Pather