Jay Pather was born in Durban in 1959, Jay Pather is one of the leading choreographers working in South Africa today, and is among the most innovative creative forces for his discipline in the world.
In 1984, Jay followed his Honours degrees in Literature and Drama from the University of Durban-Westville with an MA in Dance Theatre from New York University as a Fulbright Scholar. After completing a Performance Diploma from Trinity College, London, Pather became a Senior Lecturer at the University of Zululand.
Using choreographic conventions to disrupt and subvert ‘intimate’ encounters, Pather’s work brings slippery notions such as nationhood, love and violence to the fore. He engages multimedia to create a sophisticated layering of the postmodern experience allowing multiple points of entry and creating a dreamlike state that invites the viewer in, allowing ‘sense’ to be made however he or she needs. Pather’s work extends across disciplines, site and culture. He has collaborated with visual artists, architects and urban planners. Placing work in populated spaces, he creates a synergy between its architectural form, the movement of pedestrians and the patterns and habits of its inhabitants.
The site-specific nature of his work developed from an interest in finding an audience that might not have encountered contemporary performance before, most famously demonstrated in CityScapes, which received critical acclaim.
Awards for his choreography include a Heritage Award; a Brett Kebble Award; the Tunkie Award for Leadership in Dance and a UKZN Convocation Award for leadership in the Arts and Humanities.
Pather succeeded Sibongile Kumalo as Chair of the National Arts Festival Artistic Committee. He is currently Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town, Director of the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts, Artistic Director of Siwela Sonke and curator for the Infecting the City Public Art Festivals in Mbombela and Cape Town.