thabo dances to beat of africa

Thabo Komape testing socks.  pic MARIANNE SCHWANKHART 04/05/2010. © The Times
Thabo Komape testing socks. pic MARIANNE SCHWANKHART 04/05/2010. © The Times

AFRICAN Footprint is back after a successful world tour. After its debut in 2000 before Nelson Mandela on Robben Island, the musical has graced stages in the US, China, Australia, to name a few. Dancer Thabo Komape has performed in all 3800 shows and still loves every minute of it.

Thabo's dancing career began on the soccer field.

"I wanted to be like Marks Maponyane and other great soccer players. Like thousands of young boys in the townships I played soccer on a dusty field until late at night with rolled-up plastic bags as a ball."

Then he began dancing. At first, it was his excuse to go to town without parental supervision.

His decision to trade in his kicks for dancing shoes led to Thabo being teased. "I didn't even know what homosexual or gay meant. Many people think male dancers are gay. They teased me about it to no end. It is a stereotype I still get confronted with."

What was an excuse to see the city has now given him the opportunity to travel the world.

"Sometimes we have to be in three countries in one day - you wake up in France, have lunch in Denmark, and fall asleep in Italy - it can get crazy on tour. You also learn about other cultures. In China I thought I was eating a dish that had chicken in it only to find, after I had eaten it all, that it was made with cat meat."

Thabo attended Raucall High School, which selected the top kids from township schools.

After high school Thabo attended Wits university and Unisa where he completed his degree in Bcom accounting.

After a decade with African Footprint Thabo has still not gotten an itch to leave .

"Because we spend so much time away from home the cast has become a bit of a family. There are always new members joining and old faces leaving. I do not get bored at all.

"I get a standing ovation almost every day I'm at work - how many people can say that?

Like most dancers Thabo has a fetish for socks. He jokes that "when soccer players retire they hang up their boots, when dancers retire they hang up their socks".

He first tries a pair of socks from Mr Price. "These are quite comfortable. They're thick and warm which is good for winter. I also like that they stretch."

The next pair is from Woolworths. "These are more for summer. They're quite light and have a soothing feeling. This pair also stretches."

Next he tries a pair from Puma. "This is what I would normally wear. You feel like you're barefoot. I don't like socks that fill up the shoe."

The last pair are from Jeep. "These are very light, which would be perfect with boots and sneakers. I would also use these on their own - I like walking around in my socks.

"Of all these pairs I would take the Puma socks with me onto the stage. Socks are a dancers favourite thing and these could definitely become my favourite socks," he says.

African Footprint is on at the Theatre of Marcellus until June 20. - Keitumetse Segoai