Mark Hawkins (Choreographer: A Midsummer’s Night Dream) was born in Durban in 1962. He trained in Tap, Spanish, Ballet (RAD) and Modern dance with Iris Manning from the age of 12. He then attended The South African Academy of Drama & Ballet at the University of Natal (Durban) and continued at UCT Ballet School, Cape Town. As a student he was awarded the coveted Cyril Beaumont Award for Ballet in 1982 and in the same year received his RAD Solo Seal.
He worked with PACT Ballet, CAPAB Ballet and NAPAC Dance Company (soloist) before travelling abroad working as a principal dancer with London City Ballet and Hong Kong Ballet. He also worked as a guest Principal Artist with the Asami Maki Ballet, Japan, and the National Ballet of Iceland.
In 1991 he returned to Durban and rejoined NAPAC Dance Company as principal dancer. He appeared as ‘Greg’ in the South African touring production of A Chorus Line (1992) and then as ‘Dream Curly’ in Oklahoma! (1993). He was appointed Artistic Director of the company in 1993 (renamed Playhouse Dance Company in 1995). Under his visionary direction the company toured nationally and internationally.
In March 1998 with the retrenchment of the Playhouse Dance Company he formed the Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company (FFFDC). FFFDC presented its inaugural season TRIPTYCH in September 1998 at The Playhouse, Durban. It continued to present work in Durban; toured KwaZulu-Natal, presented at all major National arts festivals in South Africa. It also performed internationally, with a six-city tour to Taiwan in 1999 with Hawkins’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and in India where the dance company opened the Miss India Universe 2000 pageant.
In 1998, he founded Very Very Big Productions (VVBP), an events and production company producing corporate and commercial theatre. VVBP was recognised as a leader in the industry for its ability to produce top-quality events – from intimate one-off functions and national promotions to large-scale productions.
For VVBP he directed: It’s not where you start… (2001); the FNB Vita award-winning Drinks on Me (2002) and Strapless (winner Durban Theatre Awards 2003, Music Revue Production). The company produced Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2005) and the multi-award winning Nunsense (2006).
In 2001 he was awarded the Vocational Service Award by The Rotary Club of Durban eThekwini for achieving the highest ideals of Rotary International through selfless service and vocational excellence. In 2007 he received a special Abalolongi Award for services to dance in KZN and a fitting tribute came from Lynn Maree KZN DanceLink Chairperson, “From a beautiful principal dancer to choreographer, artistic director, dance mentor, show producer and event manager, there is nothing Mark hasn’t done to promote and popularise dance.”
Hawkins has served on the judging panels of the Sanlam International Ballet Competition, the South African National Panel of Recontrés Choreographiques Internationales de Seines-Saint-Denis and The South African National Choreographic Competition. He was also appointed Repertoire Tutor for the RAD Vocational Graded Mini Congress 2007 and as adjudicator for the RAD Grades Ballet Bursary Awards 2007.
Over the years he choreographed works for Hong Kong Ballet, CAPAB Ballet, PACT Dance Company, State Theatre Ballet, Ballet Theatre Afrikan, the Playhouse Dance Company and Moving into Dance Mophatong and major musical theatre productions for various South African production houses.
He worked as Ballet Master for Dada Masilo’s award-winning production of Swan Lake, which toured Europe, Scandinavia, Switzerland and London seasons (2013 /14). He was the Johannesburg Co-ordinator of Veronica Paeper’s reworked SA National Dance Theatre’s production of the National tour of A Spartacus in Africa in 2015.
He was appointed Artistic Director of Moving into Dance (founded in 1978 by Sylvia Glasser) in May 2015 and continues to hold this position, working on MID’s education, outreach and performance programmes, locally, nationally and internationally.
Mark’s past choreographic work for the Johannesburg Youth Ballet:
2013 / 2012:
Hansel & Gretel (UJ Arts Centre, National Arts Festival, Playhouse Drama Durban)
Peter Pan (UJ Arts Centre)
2010: The Four Seasons (Joburg Zoo – Arts Alive Festival)