Unmute Dance Company (UDACO) is an integrated dance company of artists with mixed abilities or ‘disabilities’ whose vision is to inspire the inclusion of ‘disabled’ persons into the main stream society through cutting edge and original performances, workshops and exchange programs etc.
The company came into existence in 2013 after Youngblood Arts and Culture Development had funded a creation process of a work entitled“Unmute”, which was later supported by National Arts Council, Dance Forum South Africa and British Council SA.
“Unmute” is choreographed by Andile Vellem, it is based on his experience as a dancer who is deaf and has been dancing professionally for more than 14 years. This work was a way of Andile finding his voice as a choreographer, using sign language as the source of the movement vocab. With this creation he brought together artists from different backgrounds to find and explore what they would like to un-mute; feelings, perceptions, social norms and expectations; while endeavouring to deconstruct what society perceives as dance. After a successful reception of ‘Unmute’ performance Unmute Dance Company was formed to continue this work of Arts and Ability integration.
In less than two years of the Company’s existence Unmute is already scooping national awards in South Africa; winning Best Project award for Disability in the Visual, Performing and Literary Arts at the Western Cape Cultural Affairs 2015, and the Artistic Director winning the Standard Bank Young Artist Award 2016.
Unmute is currently the only existing Integrated Dance Company in South Africa, based in Cape Town as part of the Artscape Resource Centre Incubator programme. With its cutting edge works it has already been invited to be part of South Africa’s major arts festivals like Grahamstown National Arts Festival, Johannesburg Dance Umbrella Festival, Cape Town’s Infecting The City, Gipca’s Live Art Festival etc. The company continues to reach to schools and communities on the national and international platforms through Outreach performances and workshops that promote integration and inclusion of people with disability within the society.