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DADA MASILO (article first published : 2007-10-25)

With the world of dance literally at her feet, young Dada Masilo (22) has won the coveted Standard Bank Young Artist Award for dance.

Before the age of 18 Dada had performed for Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, danced a solo at the All Africa Games, performed Clara in The Nutcracker at the State Theatre, danced the title role in Swedish choreographer Marie Brolin-Tani’s Oliver at the National Arts Festival, been a guest artist with Jazzart Dance Theatre, performed a work by Gregory Maqoma to great acclaim in New York, worked with PJ Sabbagha’s professional company for the Daimler-Chrysler Choreographic Competition, received the Best Contemporary Dancer Award at the National School of the Arts and danced Mary in Geoffrey Sutherland’s Navidad Nuestra.

Dada Masilo has proved to be an exceptionally charismatic dancer since childhood and dances a variety of styles ranging from Zulu indlamu to performing Clara in The Nutcracker, to becoming a professional contemporary dancer and creating a distinctive choreographic style of her own.

To create distinctive choreography is a tough call. However, Masilo not only understands the subject matter and structure of her work but is able to develop a silent vocabulary and transpose her artistic passions and skills onto the stage. This dancer-choreographer uses objects like sexy shoes and shopping bags as touches to portray images of women who are used as sex objects in a patriarchal society. “I am infinitely aware of the silent abuse that many women go through and my pieces aim to portray some of these conflicts that are part of everyday life”, she explained.

Growing up in Johannesburg where she was born, gave Dada the exposure that she needed to mature as a dancer. Dada spent her high school years at the National School of the Arts and completed her matric with exemption in 2002. During 2003 and most of 2004, she performed in London and was offered a place at the London School of Contemporary Dance. She worked with Moya Michael, the Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner for Dance in 2003 in London, and in 2004 she auditioned for the renowned school P.A.R.T.S in Brussels during the holidays in 2005.

Back in South Africa, Dada performed in Samantha Pienaar’s I of Heart for the Woman in Arts Festival in Johannesburg, in PJ Sabbagha’s Still Here and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and created the work The World, My Butt and Other Big Round Things for the Dance Factory Youth.

During March of 2006, she received the Gauteng MEC Award for the Most Promising Female Dancer in a Contemporary Style in March in abstentia and in July she performed her solo Dying, Dying, Dead and created I Just Want To Be A Princess For One Day. She also created and performed the role of Lady Macbeth in P J Sabbagha’s Macbeth which played to packed audiences at the National Arts Festival Grahamstown this year.

For this young performer, there seems to be no project too big or too challenging. At 22 the world is her oyster and the accolades just seem to pour in. Asked about this award her enthusiasm bubbles over, “I am truly grateful to Standard Bank for this prestigious award, I can’t imagine anything that I would covet more than this and the chance to have my own show at the National Arts Festival. I thank Suzette le Seuer from The Dance Factory everyday for mentoring me and giving me the chance to dance.”

Dada has spent most of her free time teaching dance to children, at Jazzart, in Brussels and at The Dance Factory where she now runs the Dance Factory Youth Training Programme. She is Artist-in-Residence at The Dance Factory.




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