A South African choreographer based in Johannesburg, PJ Sabbagha founded The First Physical Theatre Company with Gary Gordon, after graduating with honours from Rhodes University in 1993.
Honoured in 1995 by the newspaper “The Star” as one of South Africa's ten most important artists, he was also nominated for the Amstel Salute to Success award.
In 2005, he received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance and the following year, the choreography prize at the Dance Umbrella Festival for his work “Still Here”. He has also received the Most Outstanding Presentation award for both “The Double Room” (2005) and “Macbeth” (2009), as well as multiple nominations at the FNB Vita Awards and FNB Dance Umbrella Awards.
Invited to the United States in 2007, he travelled the country in search of initiatives dealing with HIV, AIDS or other infectious diseases.
PJ Sabbagha's work has been performed around the world, and he has had residencies in Russia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Mali, Mozambique and Mexico.
Not afraid to deal with difficult issues, his dance is today largely associated with the problems of AIDS.
Sabbagha undertook his formal training at Rhodes University in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.
In 1992 Sabbagha graduated with a BA (Majoring in Drama and Psychology) Rhodes University
In 1993 he graduated with a BA Honors (With Distinction) Rhodes University
He was one of the founding members of the First Physical Theatre Company, under the Direction of Gary Gordon.
Sabbagha is founding member and Artistic Director of The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative and the Annual When Life Happens: HIV and AIDS arts and Culture.
List of choreographic works
2013:“Back” Moscow: Russia and Chalon: France
“I think its Hamlet” Johannesburg, South Africa
2012: “One Night Stand” Dance Umbrella 2012
“One Night Stand” Danse l’Afrique Danse 2012; Johannesburg
“somewhere out there life was screaming” assistant choreographer to Eric Languet, Johannesburg: South Africa, St Denis: Reunion, Chalon: France.
“I think its Hamlet” Kuandu, Taipei, Taiwan.
2011:“I think its Hamlet” Dance Umbrella 2011
“Deep Night” invited to Kinani Festival in Mozambique
2010: Invited to present Deep Night at the 2010 FNB Dance Umbrella
Deep Night to be presented for Wits Drama for Life festival in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pitermaritzberg and Durban.
Deep Night selected as a finalist in the 2010 Dance Africa Dance, Biennal, Choreographic Competition in Bamako, Mali.
Invited to create a new work on The Matchbox Theatre Collective for The National Arts Festival 2010
Invited to create a new work with Masters, Honors, 3rd and 4th year students from Wits School of Arts and Drama For Life program fort 2010 Drama for Life Festival.
Invited to complete a 4 week Artistic Residency with Dialogue Dance Company and School in Kostroma Russia.
2009: Commissioned to create a new full-length work for the 2009 F.N.B. Dance Umbrella
Created ZEBRA for the 2009 F.N.B Dance Umbrella – a first time collaboration between South African and Russian artists.
ZEBRA presented in JHB South Africa, Moscow, Kostroma and Yraslav Russia During March 2009.
BACK presented in 8 cities in Mexico during April and May 2009
Sabbagha competed a 2 week Artistic Residency in Mazatlan Mexico during May 2009.
ZEBRA invited to and presented on the Main Program of the 2009 National Arts Festival, Grahamstwon South Africa.
BACK invited to and presented at Visa 2 Dance festival in Tanzania during October 2009.
Deep Night created and premiered in JHB in commemoration of World Aids Day. (Nominated by critics as best Dance work for 2009)
Teaching Experience :
1995 Rhodes University Grahamstown - Part Time Tutor in Movement, Dance, Choreography, Physical Theater, Voice, Group Acting
Company Manager and Resident Choreographer and full time performer for The First Physical Theater Company
1995 to 2003 Wits University, Johannesburg - Senior Tutor and Lecturer Movement, Dance and Choreography
Awarded the 2008 MEC Award for Most Outstanding Presentation of a New Work for MACBETH.
Nominated for the 2008 Gauteng MEC Awards for Best Choreography and Most Outstanding Presentation of a new work for MACBETH and BACK.
Nominated for the 2007 Gauteng MEC Awards for Best Choreography and Most Outstanding Presentation of a New Work for MACBETH.
Awarded the 2006 Arts and Culture Gauteng MEC’s Award for Choreographer of the Year and Best Choreographer for Still Here!
2005 Standard Bank Young Artists Award for Dance
Recipient of the FNB Vita Award for most Outstanding Presentation of an Original South African Contemporary Dance work for The Double Room.
Finalist for the Daimler Chrysler Award for Choreography
Nominated for F.N.B. Vita Award for Choreographer of the year and most Outstanding Presentation of an Original South African Contemporary Dance work for Canto Hondo, Just You Just Me, and Noah’s Phobia.
Recipient of the 1995 F.N.B. Vita Young Choreographers Grant.
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