Ndabeni is a Ugie, Eastern Cape, South African born international dancer, actor, choreographer, teacher, movement director and artistic director, founder of the London based N’da dance.
One Dance UK Dance of the African Diaspora Trailblazer fellow 2015 - 2016 and One Dance UK mentoring programme participant, recipient of Arts Council England funding and Dancers Career Development grantee.
Growing up in South Africa, he trained with Dance For All in Cape Town, Khayelitsha from the age of 11years old. While in South Africa he worked with Cape Town City Ballet, performing works by choreographers including Veronica Paeper, Robert North and Rudi van Danzig. In 2004 Ndabeni won a scholarship from the David Poole Trust, chaired by the late Harold King, allowing him to pursue further training at the London Studio Centre ( 2004 ). He was also awarded a scholarship by Kristine Elliott, founder and director of The Gugulethu Ballet Project to study at the San Francisco Academy of Ballet for their Summer Intensive and at Kaatsbaan in New York ( 2004 and 2005 ).
Upon graduating from London Studio Centre, he joined Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, touring the UK, North America, Asia and France with the award-winning Swan Lake for two years. He was a member of Rambert from 2007 – 2014 and in his seven years as a soloist at Rambert, he performed in works by many leading choreographers including Merce Cunningham, Christopher Bruce, Javier du Frutos, Henri Oguike, Doug Varone, Paul Taylor, Itzik Galili, Siobhan Davies, Mark Baldwin, Henrietta Horn, Tim Rushton, Barak Marshall and Ashley Page.
In addition to his work with Rambert, Ndabeni has also performed in a short film by Robin Schmidt, in 2012, with Baaba Maal featuring Angelique Kidjo and Senegalese Musicians at the Royal Festival Hall, and Fukiko Takase for an evening of works by Random Dance, which was later performed in Tokyo, Japan.
By 2014 he started his freelance career as part of the creative team, dancer, rehearsal director for ‘Inala’, co-produced by Sadler’s Wells and Sisters Grimm featuring the Award winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival. In 2015 – principal dancer in “Tristan und Isolde” for Longborough Festival Opera choreographed by Didy Veldman. He was awarded a place as a choreographer at Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Choreographers and Composer’s Lab.
Ndabeni was a guest artist at Company Wayne McGregor “ATOMOS”, “FAR” and “Outlier” which toured Germany, New York, Poland and Mexico and Company Chameleon “Beauty of the Beast” Edinburg Fringe 2015 and Romania.
While in his early years of training he created works for the Cape Town City Ballet, ADAD’s Bloom Festival, the English National Ballet School, Rambert’s season of new choreography, Cloud Dance Festival. His works have been performed at venues including Sadler’s Wells Lilian Baylis, Royal Opera House Linbury Studio Theatre, Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Place Theatre, Bernie Grant Arts Centre and Artscape Theatre Cape Town.
To acquire more knowledge, develop his craftsmanship and leadership skills he also founded Mbulelo Ndabeni N’da Dance in 2015 where he co-commissioned, produced, directed and choreographed new works in collaboration with various artists from different backgrounds, culture, medium and skills which resulted in successful research and development periods, creation of productions including the official launch of N’da Dance in 2017 that brought together over 28 people involved, funded by the arts council england, The Gugulethu Ballet Project, Mbulelo Ndabeni, Brand South Africa, One Dance UK, Irie Dance Theatre and Akosua Boakye.
Commissioned works include “Beholder of Beauty” at The Print Room’s 1898 Dance Festival”, “vUka” at Horniman Museum’s Africa Late Festival, “I Matter” at Artistry Youth Dance, “NNN”. at Middlesex University ‘and Goshka Macuga’s “End of Line” produced by DRAF and The Lowry.
Ndabeni produced, choreographed and directed “NaY” a solo work in collaboration with Yemalla drummers ( North London community based female Caribbean drummers ), composer Roberto David Rusconi and lighting designer Yaron Abulafia which premiered at The Place Theatre ( May 2016), with additional funding from Arts Council England Grants for Arts, One Dance UK, Crowdfunding and The Place Theatre.
Ndabeni was the movement director for the Royal Shakespeare’s production of Hamlet (2016) at Stratford Upon Avon. He also performed as an actor in ‘Tree’ created by Idris Alba and Kwame Kwei-Armah choreographed by Gregory Maqoma including contributing as Lyricists ‘Thula Thula’ ‘Jerusalema’ and ‘Buyani Bo’, featured in ‘I May Destroy You’ written and directed by the award winning actress Micheala Coel.
In 2019 Ndabeni launch IAMWEARE, an international fundraising Gala supported by High Commissioner Tambo and 31 creatives as a platform to connect global South Africans, Diaspora artists, alongside our global brothers and sisters from all over the world initially to help him findways to plough back in South Africa. IAMWEARE is a fundraising exercise towards supporting marginalised communities in South Africa, specifically in Eastern Cape.
Ndabeni is also an international freelance ballet, Southern African and Contemporary dance teacher who has taught in companies such as Rambert, Henri Oguike Dance and many more including at schools and colleges such as London contemporary dance school, The Place, The Place CAT programme, Rambert learning and participation, Legat as well as independent youth groups in the UK and Internationally.