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Dance Umbrella, SA’s biggest contemporary dance festival, died on the opening night of its 30th anniversary when director Georgina Thomson announced its end before a poignant double bill from its protégés, Gregory Maqoma and Vincent Mantsoe, at the University of Johannesburg Centre for the Arts in 2018. This death, due to a lack of funding, had been a long time coming. When First National Bank withdrew its sponsorship of 17 years in 2011, Dance Umbrella was left with no main funder. Life support came in the form of a three-year contract with the Johannesburg Arts Alive International Festival in 2012 and a one-year term with the National Lottery as the main sponsor for 2015.

During these uncertain and trying times, Dance Umbrella started a Facebook conversation with those who would be affected by the festival’s demise. A strong sentiment from that debate was a suggestion for the festival to restructure and reposition itself for a new start. With the end confirmed in 2018, dance...

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