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5 Best Dancers from South Africa

Aug 23, 2022 02:00PM ● By Anand Subramanian
collage of South African dancers

South Africa is more famous than any other nation in the world for its distinctive dance moves and the development of new movements. Dancing is a way of life in South Africa. It defines people, their preferred style, or their chosen style. According to this profoundly ingrained tradition, the local dance is diverse and lively. And also, very significant. People are deeply linked to music, motions, and dress, distinguishing South African dancing genres. Some of these styles are creating worldwide trends, and these five dancers have solidified South Africa's dancing heritage on the global arena.

Teboho "Tebza" Diphehlo


Teboho "Tebza" Diphehlo is a Soweto-based professional Pantsula dancer, instructor, and choreographer who began his dancing career in 2005. He discovered his interest in early school and has never looked back. He received extensive Pantsula training from Shakers & Movers, a pantsula firm. Pantsula dancing is a tradition and highly frenetic dance style that evolved in South Africa during apartheid. It evolved into a form of social criticism for Black South Africans and has gone through multiple alterations as the country's political tides changed. Taboo has been a rising star in the business for over 15 years and has received numerous awards, including Red Bull Dance Your Style in South Africa in 2018. As a wildcard participant, he represented South Africa in the Red Bull Dance Your Style global finale in Paris in 2019. His achievements and individuality have earned him his own Red Bull Dance Your Style Limited Edition can, which is the first time a South African dancer has received it.

Lulu Mlangeni


Lulu Mlangeni is a South African dancer best known for winning the second season of So You Thought You Can Dance on SABC1 in 2010. She started dancing in a community dance group in Soweto. Although she was exposed to modern ballet in 2004, she has never looked back. She has worked with notable South African choreographers such as Nelisiwe Xaba, P.J Shabaga, James Ngcobo, Gregory Maqoma, and many more as she rose through the ranks of the dance business. She won the Dance Umbrella Award for Most Outstanding Female Dancer in 2007 and was the Season 2 champion of So You Think You Can Dance? South Africa was the first recipient of the Sophie Mgcina Emerging Voice Award in 2014. She was honored with the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance in 2020.

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Motshi Mabuse


Motshi Mabuse, born in Pretoria, South Africa, had a lengthy and varied dancing career that included appearances on Let's Dance, the German equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing, where she began as a professional dancer but eventually became a judge. Mabuse was supposed to become a lawyer and join a family law business, but while studying at the University of Pretoria, she grew interested in dance. Her studies shifted to dance, and finished second in the national finals in 1998. During the British Open Championships in Blackpool the following year, she met her dancing and love partner, Timo Kulczak. They married in 2003 and traveled to Germany to participate in international dancing contests. She won the German Latin dancing competition in 2013 with Ukrainian dancer Evgenij Voznyuk. She has been a judge on Strictly Come Dancing, which aired on BBC from series 17 in 2019, replacing Darcey Bussell. In 2021, Mabuse was appointed as a Weight Watchers ambassador.

Gregory Maqoma


Gregory Maqoma, born in 1973, is regarded as one of South Africa's most gifted new generation artists. His passion for dance started in the late 1980s as a way to escape the political turmoil in his birthplace. His expertise began in 1990 when he studied at Moving into Dance and later became the Associate Artistic Director. He discovered Vuyani Dance Theater while studying at the Performing Arts Research and Training School in Belgium in 1999. He created a name for himself as a respected and globally recognized dancer, choreographer, director, teacher, and screenwriter. He has worked with choreographers such as Akram Khan, Vincent Mantsoe, Faustin Linyekula, Dada Masilo, Shanell Winlock, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui since 2000. FNB Vita Choreographer of the Year, Rhythm Blues, and Southern Comfort in 1999, 2001, and 2002, respectively. In 2002, he got the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance. He was a Daimler Chrysler Choreography Award finalist in 2022 and a Rolex Mentorship Programme finalist in 2003. The French government bestowed the Chevalier of L'ordre des Arts and des Lettres to Maqoma in 2017.

Lindi Mlaba

She has been a dance powerhouse on worldwide stages spanning Europe, the United States, and Germany since she went overseas in 2009. Her resume includes collaborations with internationally renowned artists such as Burna Boy, Jay Z, Daddy Yankee, Jeremih, Dawn Richard from Danity Kane, Sampa the Great, Serani, and Soaky Siren. Still, she made headlines when featured in Beyoncé's "Black is King," which showcased the best of African beauty and talent. She has been a hip-hop coach since 2014. She has won several awards, including Master on Stage 2016 (Nu-Delta Project), Phenomenon 2015 (Tremendous), Hip Hop Swiss Champion 2015 (Tremendous), Culture Shock Showcase 2015 (Las Vegas) & 2016 (Los Angeles), and fourth place at the Hip Hop World Championship 2014. (Team Battle).

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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