Glasser, Sylvia (1940–) By Davies Cordova, Sarah
Over the course of a career that stretches across from the regime of apartheid through the transition and into the establishment of a democratic republic, Sylvia Glasser has contributed significantly to dance and education in South Africa. As “Magogo” or “Mother” to the dancers in her company and training programs, Glasser contested the separatist premises of apartheid and made manifest, without militancy, with bodies in movement, cultures that were banished by apartheid. Glasser received the 1996 FNB Vita Special Achievement Award for her development of a unique, dynamic South African contemporary choreographic practice and dance style and for her company’s ongoing dance education and outreach programs in the communities. She was honored as South African “National Living Human Treasure and Foremost Pioneer” in 2000; garnered the Tunkie Arts and Culture Trust Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005; and earned the National Tribute to Women in the Arts and Culture Sector in 2010 for her contributions to South African modern dance and to society’s fabric. At the forefront of South African modern dance from the late 1970s onwards, Glasser’s explorations of South African rituals, music and dance together with her training in Western modern dance led her to develop a distinct style she calls Afrofusion, which reflects her philosophy of integrity and respectful cultural sensitivity and that blends elements from South African culture with various choreographic structures underpinning Western modern dance.