By Zanele Mukhari
I follow the sound of music down the corridor into a room where a group of young children are gathered around one man, staring up at him with stars in their eyes. They hang on his every word. He nods his head and they partner up.
It is the beginning of the ballroom dance class at the Dakawa Centre.
The Dakawa New Generation Dance School has been open for four years and its membership continues to grow.
“I was fairly surprised when the community did not hesitate to show their support,” says Xolani Mboyi, founder and ballroom and Latin dancing coach.
He heads over to the music system and cranks up the volume. Everyone on the dance floor gets into position and starts to do the cha-cha as soon as the beat drops. The dancers glide across the floor as Mboyi walks between them correcting their posture and technique. The energy in the room is electric.
“I love what I do and even though we might not have the best facilities, it makes me happy to see the joy my students have when they’re doing something they love too,” says Mboyi.
He started the school after approaching Dakawa centre manager, Loyiso Mgoduka, for access to the venue. The classes were initially for 9-to-16 year olds but after strong interest from the community, Mboyi started teaching dancers of any age. The dance school relies solely on the assistance from sponsors to help with costumes and competition costs.
Students from Mary Waters High School, St Mary’s Primary and George Dickerson Primary attend the ballroom classes daily and train with Mboyi from 2.30pm to 4pm.
At age 10 Mboyi was introduced to dancing by Ben Dlukulu, who taught ballroom at the local community centre. He refers to the experience as his first love. “I was young when I started dancing and it brought me so much joy, I just want to do that for someone else now,” Mboyi says.
“Point your toes. Strengthen your frame. Allow your partner to guide you on the floor”, Mboyi says to one of his students as he points over to an older dance couple. “Look at how strong his frame is,” he adds.
Mboyi has been dancing for 20 years and his passion is undiminished. He says ballroom and Latin is not just about dancing – it instils discipline which is carried out into the dancers’ daily lives.
He has big plans for his students and the other dance groups in Grahamstown.
“I want to partner up with the other groups in the community,” he says.
He wants his dancers to participate in the world trials which will ensure them a spot on an international level.
“If we did this we would be able to strengthen our dance participation on a municipality level which would put us one step closer to reaching an international level. I know my students are good and I expect perfection from all of them because I know they have what it takes to be the best.”
Even with the lack of a proper dance facility Mboyi and his students remain dedicated to practising daily.
If you would like to support the dance school, you can call Zandile on 071 979 4941.