Internationally-recognised choreographer Courtnaé Paul loves music, loves to dance

Internationally-recognised choreographer and DJ Courtnaé Paul says choreography isn’t something she initially thought she would get into. Picture: Facebook.

Internationally-recognised choreographer and DJ Courtnaé Paul says choreography isn’t something she initially thought she would get into. Picture: Facebook.

Published Mar 11, 2021


Johannesburg - Internationally-recognised choreographer and DJ Courtnaé Paul is a powerhouse who has grown to be a respected force in the industry.

But choreography isn’t something she initially thought she would get into.

“To be honest, I didn’t want to be a choreographer and people are always shocked at that answer. I didn’t know I could dance, it wasn’t really part of my plan at all. I started dancing very late. Most people come out of the womb dancing and going to classes, but for me it was very different.”

Paul has a gymnastics, kickboxing and soccer background, and has been active all her life.

“I started dancing around age 11 or 12 and once I realised I liked it, I went head first into it and it progressed from there.”

Paul has also released her debut DJ EP featuring Holly Rey, Gigi LaMayne, Moozlie, Manu WorldStar, Benny Afroe and Boskasie.

When it comes to her music, Paul started DJing only six or seven years ago.

“In the hip hop space, breaking and DJing are the biggest part of the culture. I‘ve always been someone to experiment. I will always try something because you never know if you’re going to like it or not.

“It was a combination of realising people liked what I was doing and opportunities were coming up. There were very few female hip hop DJs in the space and I love that kind of challenge so it was something I knew I was going to do.”

Paul recently qualified in the Red Bull BC One Global Top 32, as the only African B-Girl and is part of the national tour to find the best B-boy and B-girl in the country.

The Red Bull BC One is the longest-running breaking competition and is this year celebrating its 20-year milestone.

“It’s been an insane time, especially with being a B-girl in this country as the opportunities are slim. The BC One gives you a platform and something to work towards. I get asked what I’m actually training for but you always have to be ready for an opportunity and Red Bull is that. We’re doing four city stops on the tour I’m currently on and it’s us getting to connect with dancers in different cities from Gqberha to Oudtshoorn.

“It’s giving dancers an opportunity and a platform and it doesn’t just end there. Once you win a city cypher, you go to the national final, and if you win there you are off to Poland. The experience as a whole is great, and validating as well.”

Lockdown allowed the 28-yearold to hone her many crafts including joining other DJs on Channel O’s Lockdown House Party, the Get Together Experience on Metro FM and SABC 1, releasing her debut EP and launching her first online show, Spare Room Sessions. The show sees Paul interviewing some of the country’s biggest artists such as Lady Zamar, Youngsta, Focalistic, Moonchild Sanelly and Shekhinah.

Her advice for upcoming B-girls is to really find what it is they want out of what they are doing.

“If it’s a casual thing, you can find a studio where someone is teaching the style or check out YouTube. If it’s something you want to get into competitively, start learning the craft. People jump to wanting to be on stage and touring, but it starts with the skill.

“Even if you’ve never seen other women do it, do it. We’re working to change that narrative. I do as much as I can because it’s hard for women to get into any space, especially if you’ve never seen someone that looks like you in it.”

Paul is the only girl on the current break-dancing tour.

“It’s a tricky thing but I always just say don’t be scared, just go for it. It’s not going to be easy but it’s definitely possible.”

Break-dancing is going to be recognised as an official Olympic sport at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and it’s a goal of Paul’s to make it there.

“I see myself continually doing what I’m doing. I started breaking about 10 years ago and this is my first BC One. So it’s ever-changing in terms of my direction.

“The way life goes, you never know how things will end up, but as it stands, I want to compete and go to the world final and be part of the Olympics.

“This is my career and job, it’s heavily tied to everything I do on a daily basis, this is me. I just want to spread the message a little bit more and make sure people respect this thing and understand it. It’s not something that must stay underground or be undermined. Dance isn’t something you do because there is no other option,” she said

The Star

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