Giving ballet classics an African flavour
Dada Masilo is well-known for interpreting ballet classics and giving them a unique African twist.
Some of her great works include a contemporary version of Romeo and Juliet in 2008, Carmen, which showcased a year later, and now she is presenting the latest version of Swan Lake at the annual Arts Alive Festival starting tomorrow.
The annual arts showcase, features music, dance, theatre, puppetry and visual art exhibitions and Dada will perform Swan Lake next Saturday (September 8).
Speaking to Sowetan this week the 27-year-old dancer was quick to point out that Swan Lake was the first ballet she had ever seen and it has great sentimental value for her.
Known as a creative storyteller on the dance floor, Dada said she immediately saw this as yet another great new challenge to interpret.
"I felt the need to add some traditional elements like ilobolo and I also decided to touch on social issues like making the prince gay," Masilo said of her recent interpretation.
Masilo has over the years used dance to address social issues like homosexuality, racism and always fuses classic with contemporary dance.
Her version of Swan Lake had its first five performances and five standing ovations at the Grahamstown Art Festival in 2010.
On what urged her to revamp the piece again this year, the Soweto-born artist said, "European fans asked for a comeback of the show, so we will have a six-week tour there,'' she said of the upcoming tour, which she and the cast will embark on, after Arts Alive .
The cast's 14 dancers will hold eight performances, including two Arts Alive gigs. They will also hold six performances under the 2012 Dance Umbrella, which has now merged with Arts Alive.
The exciting line-up of dancers in the show include Craig Arnolds, Bafakile Sedibe and Ipeleng Merafe.
The Dance Factory, where Swan Lakewill be performed, also holds a special place in Masilo's heart.
Every time, after her world tours she finds her way back to the Dance Factory.
"This is where I started out as an 11-year-old,'' she said.
As a youngster, she used to come to The Dance Factory with her township troupe, until her talent was spotted. She later majored in dance at the National School of Arts. After matric she studied dance at the Jazz art Dance Theatre in Cape Town.
Some of the accolades she has earned over the years include the 2005 Gauteng MEC Award for Most Promising Female Dancer in a Contemporary Style and the 2008 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance, which she views as, her first big break in choreography.
- It was in 2006 after I performed at the Transnet Newtown Women in Arts Festival.
First trip overseas
- In 2002 I went to New York for a fundraising event for the Dance Factory Youth
First dace teacher
- Lenora Stapleton, a New York dance teacher who had come to teach at the Dance Factory
- In grade 11 after being told to put my hair in a bun at my ballet class. I remained bald ever since and usually shave my head before my performances
First great fall on stage
- I don't remember falling off stage but I have been dropped by my partner quite a few times