“Dancing is my communication tool and a therapy” – Thobeka TK Bhengu

Uniq Mag finding out more about the impact of dancing into TK’s (Thobeka Bhengu) life as an international dancer. Asanda Mkuzo took her time to learn and understand the contemporary business so to share with the readers.

How long have you been dancing?

I was introduced to dance in 2007, so it has been about 10 years.

How does dance inspire you?

Dance to me is a language just like any other spoken language the difference is that in dance the body is a tool for communication.

What got you into dancing?

I used to watch Backstage which was a series that played on e-TV. I used to see Lorcia Cooper dance in the series, but I did not know what kind of dance that was. When I got to UKZN(PMB) to study law  I also took drama as an elective, for the first time I saw people doing that dance I had seen on television being done live at a dance studio in the drama department. I wanted to do it to too. I understood it.

Why do you like dancing?

I like dancing because it makes me feel alive. There is no greater feeling than being able to use your body as a tool to entertain, educate, raise awareness and advocate for what you believe in.

What are some of your goals for dance?

I have been dancing for about 1 year and I would love to open a youth arts centre, where disadvantaged youth and young women can attend dance, drama and yoga classes. The centre would also offer different art forms like a recording studio, a gallery to display artworks done by the youth. The centre will help train and uplift the youth and young women from disadvantaged backgrounds.

What type of dance do you practice and where did you learn it?

I am mostly interested in contemporary dance and African contemporary dance and I was introduced to dance at UKZN (PMB).

How do you feel when you perform?

When I am performing or just dancing in rehearsal, for me it is some sort of therapy. I feel alive and content.

What inspires you to keep on dancing?

A number of talented local artists inspire me, they are spread across different art forms and I am honoured to have experienced their work.

What has dance taught you?

Dance has taught me that you might dedicate your life to something but you might not end up on the covers of magazines and you might not appear on television. However, you will appreciate every breath you take because you get to do what you love.

Do you treat dance as a career, hobby or sport?

Dance is a career to me. However, my focus is not on dance only in the arts industry. I do different things in the arts.

What is your greatest weakness?

My greatest weakness is the love for the work that I do. This makes it difficult to say no when I have to say no. When you love what you do, you tend to focus on the work and not making money. However, as you get older you have more responsibilities and you have to make some sort of income and cut down on doing favours.

Do you have a favourite dancer?

My favourite dancer would have to be a brilliant dancer and a friend from Durban Teekay Quvane.

Are there any challenges in dance?

Yes, there are many challenges in dance, for most youth in KZN who would like to receive dance training, there are only a few companies offering dance training. There is little to no dance training in disadvantaged communities. The industry is largely elitist in its nature, if you cannot afford to go into urban areas you will not be able to experience live dance performances or tickets to the theatres that are situated in urban areas.

Tell us about your performances? Have you performed for an audience? Where and when?

I started performing in choreography productions, theatre productions and musicals at UKZN and most students would be the audience. I did my first performance outside campus in two dance productions at the Jomba Contemporary Dance Festival in 2011 and since I have performed and choreographed work in Durban which premiered at festivals and other performance spaces in Durban, Cape Town, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Ohio (USA) and recently in the United Kingdom (London).

What advice can you give to people who would like to do this type of dance?

I would say that if you really want to dance, find a space and start moving. Find a training school or a community group that does theatre and contemporary dance or join any classes available in your town. My dance lecturer uses to say that it takes 10 years to train a dancer. He was right.

What do you think is the key to success?

The key to success is hard work and persistence.  If you give up every time you feel that things are going slowly or not going your way, you have to remember to always get up and try again.