Khoza dances on new level

The rhythm moves to Londiwe Khoza's beat.
The rhythm moves to Londiwe Khoza's beat.
Image: Ascaf Avraham

Londiwe Khoza has taken the art of ballet to another level as she performs abroad in a new discipline called gaga.

Born in Johannesburg, she and her mom moved to Cape Town when she was only two years old. This is where her love for dance was developed.

Her very first exposure was watching a performance of Swan Lake when she was only five-years-old.

"The only thing I remember is how much I wanted to be like the ballerina and be on stage," Khoza says.

She started ballet at the Cape Junior Ballet Company at 13.

In her final year of high school, she joined the accelerated training programme at the Cape Academy of Performing Arts (Capa) under the direction of Debbie Turner.

"It was also in that year that I became a student company member of the Cape Dance Company. A year later, I started my first year of college at Capa," she says.

Khoza, who turns 25 next month, was nominated to participate in the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé arts initiative with the world-renowned Ohad Naharin at the Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv in Israel.

Rolex selects artists of excellence from several disciplines around the world to work for a year with a mentor in their field of practice. Khoza got the nod for dance.

Her impressive skill and discipline saw her being offered a job as a dancer with the renowned company.

Here she was taught gaga, a skill where you let your body tell you how to move before your mind tells it what to do.

"What's been different for me is that I've learned to work from the inside, out, and not just look in a mirror and see that the right line is there," she says. "I've started listening to the flow of energy in my body and riding the natural waves of that flow."

Khoza says working with Ohad has changed her approach to working.

"He provided me with tools and keys that unlocked places in my body and in my mind that have had such a great impact and change in the time I've been with him."

But Khoza says she has had to make sacrifices to succeed in her art. "I didn't have a social life at all until I turned 21 and graduated from Capa. For about four years, my mom and I would walk home to Camps Bay (a two-hour walk) after performances, which means I would get home after midnight. Only then would I start homework and projects and studying for exams."

She says she's grateful to her mother, who supported her decision to be a dancer.

"She always ensured I had what I needed," says Khoza.

She says her time with Naharin has taught her that dance should be taught to all people, regardless of race or gender. "It's a pity that gaga hasn't made it's way to Africa yet, because this way of moving has definitely changed and benefited my body."

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