Pastor Nkosi dances to the glory of the Lord
BORN to a family of pastors and with a love for dance, Julia Mbalenhle Nkosi has found a way to combine both in a fun and interesting way.
"I'm not just a dancer. I minister to people through my art," she explained of her unique crusade.
The 27-year-old dancer and self-styled pastor at her Let's Go to Glory Church, Nkosi is a choreographer and a public speaker who has travelled to countries like the US, England, Spain and Mozambique to name a few.
Nkosi has been heading the dance department at the Braamfontein-based Lets Go To Glory Church for the past two years and occasionally hosts workshops for women on dance and spirituality.
In her latest workshops, she has partnered with Mokgotsi Women, an empowerment initiative for women in a spiritual and fitness workshop to be held tomorrow at Virgin Active in Maponya Mall in Soweto.
Nkosi, who grew up in Phiri, Soweto, said she had been dancing for as long as she could remember.
Her childhood, she added, was in a family of nomads as her parents were always on the road.
"I grew up with my two brothers. One of them passed away when I was in high school and the other one, Donald is a metro cop."
At the family's Apostle Church Nkosi said she used to hate singing but recalled how she loved playing instruments and dancing.
An interest in the arts emerged from that time and she later joined the drama team during her high school years at Altmont Technical High based in Protea South. "We used to compete with neighbouring schools and at the age of fourteen I directed and acted in a play which was staged at the Witwatersrand RAPS Interschool's Play Festival.
"I was given an honorary award as best director. That was the proudest moment of my life," she said.
Two years later, the talented young artist went on to represent South Africa in America with eleven other students from Cape Town and Johannesburg in a reconcilialtion event that took place after the 9/11 tragedy.
Other students were from Northern Ireland and Israel.
"It was a busy time for me and I was practically living out of a suitcase."
In 2003 Nkosi matriculated and pursued her studies in Theatre Performance at the Market Laboratory in Newtown, Johannesburg the following year.
"I studied dance, theatre and did a playwright course there for a year," she said. She then did television stunts on shows like Jozi Streets and in other cameo roles, where she acted and worked alongside stars like Faye Peters and Eric Miyeni. At the age of 19, Nkosi joined the Youth For Christ Missionary and this is where the seeds to minister started.
She worked there for four years and performed in parks, prisons and schools in different countries like Mozambique and England.
"We would address social issues happening in communities through our art," she said.
But the excitement of travelling in foreign countries had its fair share of challenges too. She had to adapt quickly to the different cultures, food and had to learn to speak different languages.
During her travels she also encountered her first experiences of racism.
"At some of the events some people would not want to shake your hand because your skin was too dark," she said.
This prompted Nkosi to dream of establishing a foundation one day that would bring young people of all races to be exposed to difference cultures and promote tolerance. After her travels abroad, she felt the need to join a different church, despite her parent's disapproval, and joined Let's Go to Glory in 2010.
"I needed a church that could accommodate my passion and would understand me," she said.
The church views art as an important element and has an arts division where music, drama and poetry is provided.
"A sermon in our church will involve the choir singing, someone reciting a poem and I will dance to it.
"I select music carefully for the message it carries.
"Through my dancing I bring joy, hope and aim to uplift people," Nkosi said.