GOING INTERNATIONAL: Londiwe Khoza, from the Cape Dance Company, is dancing all the way into the hearts of many around the world. Picture: Oscar O’Ryan
GOING INTERNATIONAL: Londiwe Khoza, from the Cape Dance Company, is dancing all the way into the hearts of many around the world. Picture: Oscar O’Ryan

Welcome to Women’s Month. There is a proliferation of events, such as Artscape’s Women’s Humanity Arts Festival, which is on until August 12 with theatre, dance, talks, workshops and exhibitions.

With the prevalence of gender-based violence, many Women’s Month events are focused on driving awareness. While it is imperative to open up dialogue around violence and other gender issues, it is also important to celebrate the talent and drive of innovative young women who are breaking boundaries - here and abroad. 

At the start of Women’s Month, ToTT is giving a shout-out to dancer Londiwe Khoza (23) who is receiving international acclaim for her expressive and theatrical approach to dance.

Take a look at the photo on this page and you will get a sense of the presence and charisma this young artist exudes, and which led her to receive a coveted international arts award. In March last year Khoza was notified that she had been named the winner for dance of the Rolex Protégé programme 2016-17. 

Every year Rolex selects artists of excellence from around the world - from a range of disciplines - including theatre and visual arts. The artist gets the opportunity to work for a year with a mentor in their field of practice. This year, seven artists were chosen and Khoza got the nod for dance. 

She spent a year in Israel working with her mentor, Ohad Naharin, at the Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv. Naharin was so impressed with Khoza that when the mentorship finished in March, she was offered a job as a dancer with the renowned company.

The Rolex is tagged as a platform for “young artists”, but many of the recipients tend to be mid-career, in their 30s, and she is 23. 

The modest Khoza - the third South African to be named a Rolex Protégé - said: “I feel very honoured to be among such incredible artists. And I hope to be able to make my mark in the arts world.”

Her path to excellence has been one beset by challenges as she comes from a financially disadvantaged background. Born in Joburg, when she was two she moved to Cape Town with her mother.

“I was raised by my mom - a single mom - and I have an older brother. I started dancing at the age of five.”

She went to Camps Bay Prep and Primary and was awarded a full scholarship to attend to high school at Reddam Atlantic Seaboard.

“I was in the Cape Junior Ballet Company (part of UCT) from 2007-2010 and joined Capa’s Accelerated Training Programme in my last year of high school. I had my premiere with the Cape Dance Company that same year.”

Capa is the Cape Academy of Dance, in Westlake. Capa’s Debbie Turner enthused: “To say I am proud is an understatement. It is a success for South African dance and the profiling of a superb role model for young dancers.”

After graduating from Capa, Khoza spent five months in London at the Central School of Ballet. Khoza added: “When I came back I took up my first professional contract, with the Cape Dance Company for its Grahamstown season, after which I danced with Joburg Ballet for the rest of that year. In January 2015 I performed in a play that I co-wrote, #BalletMustFall, after which I worked with the Cape Dance Company.

“I performed in an international dance film, Iris Warriors, and then took up my last contract with Capa before departing for Tel Aviv to work with Ohad and the Batsheva Dance Company.”

Khoza is learning Hebrew but says that language has not been a barrier: “Israel is an incredible place. It’s so multicultural that eventually it doesn’t matter what language you speak.”

She loves Israeli food and is delighted to be able to continue working with Naharin.

She’s also thrilled about flying the flag for South African women: “I think times are changing and the world is filled with strong, incredible, powerful women who are generating waves.

“I think it’s incredible that young South African girls have powerful women in their country to look up to.”