Back to top

Ms Sylvia “Magogo” Glasser

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Ms Sylvia “Magogo” Glasser Awarded for:
Her excellent contribution to the field of dance and her transference of skills to young people from all racial backgrounds, fostering social cohesion during the apartheid era.
Profile of Ms Sylvia “Magogo” Glasser

Ms Sylvia “Magogo” Glasser is that rare talent that combines a strong sense of justice and care for fellow human beings, with exceptional artistic and humanitarian skills; a passionate cultural activist, exceptional choreographer, dance teacher and mentor. She is fondly known as “Magogo” to hundreds of talented young African dancers from disadvantaged backgrounds. Glasser has played a major role in democratising the dance landscape in South Africa.

Her work over the past 38 years has transformed the lives of hundreds of young South Africans through her teaching, mentoring and nurturing. At the height of apartheid in the late 1970s and onwards, Glasser brought black and white dancers together to dance in the garage of her Johannesburg home. For many years she single-handedly raised funds and provided access to dance training, resulting in careers that broke the cycle of poverty for dozens of marginalised youth.

Many of those she mentored have become successful, internationally acclaimed professional dancers, choreographers, teachers, actors and arts administrators. They have performed in shows such as African Footprint and the Lion King, while also creating their own dance companies such as Vuyani Dance Theatre, lnzalo Dance Theatre and Ntsane Dance Company.

She raised funds to provide money for transport and food to aspirant dancers, and provided shelter in her house when it was not safe to return to the townships. Her contribution revived interest in indigenous African cultures. Glasser pioneered a new South African dance aesthetic by blending African music, movement and ritual with Western contemporary dance forms, creating her first Afrofusion work in 1977.

From humble beginnings, under the inspiring artistic ethos of Glasser, Moving into Dance grew into a premier professional South African contemporary Africa dance company with a full-time training course based in Newtown near Johannesburg. Her exceptional vision and the holistic training course she started in 1992 were to provide a model for other arts organisations. The Netherlands government has since recognised Glasser’s work and she was knighted in 2014, in the Order of Oranje-Nassau.