FOR A dancer who started out lacking rhythm, Tumi Tladi has certainly found his feet.
The 20-year-old dancer and choreographer is dancing all the way to Los Angeles’ Edge Performing Arts Centre in West Hollywood when he leaves the country tomorrow to showcase his talent, and also teach the history and techniques of local dance genres such as pantsula, isibhujwa and kwaito.
For three months, the multi-award winning dancer will learn and share his craft with his peers on an international platform.
Tladi, son of revered music executive and promoter Peter Tladi, seems to not have fallen too far from the tree, as Tladi himself attributes his passion and interest in dancing and the arts to watching and learning from his father.
“I’d like to think I took after my dad in many ways,” he said, chuckling. “But, I remember watching You Got Served and watching Usher dance and it all showed me the cool side of dancing. In 2006, a girl at school saw how I danced and recommended I come to Craig Bullock’s dance studio, Dance Web, and I was amazed to see the kind of work being done here,” he said.
Tladi is also a member of dance crew AI (Artificial Intelligence) which has travelled internationally, raking up awards and recognition each year since 2007 at the International Dance Organisation World Championships held in Germany, Poland and Austria.
The dance crew also won the Red Bull Beat Battle last year, further entrenching their names within the dance industry.
But it was concept videos he created with fellow dancers and uploaded on YouTube that drew the attention of international choreographers and the sponsors for this trip, Christian Gutterre and musical maestro Keiko Matsui.
He was soon found by choreographer Kumari Suraj and then introduced to dancers Nick Demoura and Brice Lock, who dances for pop queen Madonna, and Tony Czar, who dances for R&B superstar Usher.
Tladi said all his achievements had been a result of hard work, research and dedication to improving himself as a dancer and choreographer.
“I’m a person that loves to learn. I love learning from other dancers, too. I never had natural talent, ask anyone and they’ll tell you I started out roughly. But when I went to an urban dance camp in Germany last year and told I danced like a robot, then my mindset changed.
“I started to allow myself to groove and enjoy the music … I’m so excited about the trip because it’s not only going to allow us a chance to show people we can choreograph a piece of art, but show that it’s not about someone’s age but the quality of their material.”