For Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) dance coach Mpho Kgatla, having being able to represent South Africa and DUT on an international dance arena is certainly a highlight in his dancing career.
The talented Kgatla, who also teaches and adjudicates dance, was selected by Sylvester Sefotlhelo from the South African World Artistic Dance Federation Branch President; to represent South Africa at the European WADF Championships 2018 in Russia. This was after winning the National Professional Latin American Division in Sun City, last year, 2017.
Kgatla is the most revered and respected dancer in South African dance sport industry with passion for dance development. He is also an arts activist that wants to see support of the arts enhanced.
He has been teaching dance for more than sixteen years and has devoted most of his time to the development of dance sport in rural, urban, township and suburbs areas in South Africa. He started working as a dance teacher in 1999 at Mmabana Arts, Culture and Sport Foundation, Mmabatho (North West Province), later moved up ranks to be a choreographer for corporate events and opening ceremonies, development officer for South African Dance Foundation Kwa-Zulu Natal Province SA while taking part in competitions locally and international representing South Africa.
His aim is to contribute towards the recognition, respect and support for arts, culture and sport with a passion to ensure that more opportunities are awarded to deserving artists and that the arts, culture and sports contribute positively to job creation. According to Kgatla, dance is a form of discipline which instils confidence, respect, good mannerism, perseverance and courage as well and enriching physical and mental well-being of an individual.
In South Africa and in some parts of the world, dance is under sports and it is well recognised by SASCOC in the country and the only recognised dance structure is DANCESPORT South Africa. He and his professional dance partner Ms Christine Fritsch from Durban, had achieved one Gold medal and one Silver medal out of 15 countries, as well as three Silver medals and a Bronze medals, at the international event.
“It was for the first time in the world of dancesport our national anthem song played in Moscow, Russia. Besides going to the competition, the team also squeezed in a bit of sight-seeing, taking in the tourist attractions of the Cathedral buildings in the Kremlin. We were really excited and proud to have danced and won one Gold medal and one Silver medal out of 15 countries. The next day we took three Silver medals and one Bronze medal out of nine countries, he said excitedly.
Kgatla, also added that without the support of his family, fellow dance and DUT work colleagues, his dream would not have been possible. Besides Moscow, Kgatla has also visited and danced in the USA, Italy, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.
His favourite international destinations are Russia and Italy, one being for the sight-seeing of the architecture of buildings in both countries as well as the languages spoken which makes him to think he is in a movie when overseas.
For Kgatla, he loves the dance of Paso Double. This is a lively style of which is modelled after the sound, drama, and movement of the Spanish and Portuguese bullfight. “I like the music and its more dramatic cause of the story behind the dance style (bull fighting), also the man is the matador and the lady his cape,” he said.
He stressed that dancing required discipline and he and his partner practiced every day at least three to four hours, as a high standard of performance is required at competitions.
In terms of diet, he does watch what he eats, especially now, since he and his partner are taking part internationally and will also be in London from 25 to 31 May 2018 for another international competition.
At DUT, Kgatla said he does see dance potential in many of the students who dance in the DUT dance club. “I would also appreciate if they (DUT students) can give it their all at competition levels so that the institution can raise the dance budget high to meet the standard of their level of performance because without good results we will remain at the same spot. Already, last year, we took second place at the USSA and we managed to scoop many accolades at the DUT awards and as well as coach of the year. So, hopefully that will add in increasing the club budget,” he added.
Hi advice to future dancers is very simple. “Follow your passion don’t get distracted, dance changes every day, so love your dance basics and you’ll go far,” he said.
Pictured: Mpho Kgatla and his partner dance partner Ms Christine Fritsch, in Russia.