THE arts world is mourning the sudden death last week of an award-winning Bathurst dance teacher who helped many youngsters realise their dreams of performing around the world.
Traditional dance expert Tina Piek, 44, died of cervical cancer last week in an East London hospital.
Bathurst's Centenary Hall where the memorial service took place at the weekend, was packed beyond capacity as friends from across the country and abroad came to say an emotional farewell to the popular dance teacher.
Through her tireless efforts over the past 27 years to promote traditional African dance around the world, little-known groups were given the opportunity to showcase their talent at festivals from America to Zimbabwe.
Piek studied dance at the Pretoria Technikon and later lectured at the University of Namibia. During her time in Namibia she also worked as a cultural co-ordinator for the Ministry of Education and Culture in Windhoek where she initiated dance projects for the poor in rural and township schools before returning to South Africa where she headed up the dance section at Durban's Bartel Arts Trust.
She later accepted a post as dance company manager at the North West Arts Dance Company in Mafikeng, where she initiated the acclaimed Indlovu Link Dance Project in 1998.
In 2003, Piek moved to Bathurst where she worked with traditional dance and drama groups, singers and crafters at several different municipalities across the province, the Eastern Cape government, Rhodes University and the National Arts Festival.