Shining a light on dancers and giving them a platform to show off their talents is one part of the Red Bull Dance Your Style competition, the other is inspiring the crowd to get behind your moves.
An array of fine dancers have passed through this contest and one such is Limpopo Boy. When we say dance, we are not talking about a simple approach to the art. Dance, like any other art form, is meant to be driven by ingenuity and uninhibited creativity.
Limpopo Boy, whose real name is Matome Robert Mahlatse Thoka, is originally from Limpopo – as his pseudonym suggests. He hails from a small village called Sekonye Molemole.
The 27-year-old made his mark in this competition with his fluid dance style that encompasses elements of many genres, but is built firmly on sbujwa. This year he returns as a mentor for anyone looking to give the contest a shot.
Thoka explains: “I have been dancing all my life, but professionally I have been dancing for more than 10 years. It would be selfish of me to say I developed all this myself as it is a gift I inherited from my mother, but it was harnessed and refined by a lot of people who mentored me.
“I am a versatile dancer. I don’t like boxing myself in, but I am a bujwa dancer at the core. I take every competition seriously, as dance is my life. I am looking forward to the competition. People can expect nothing but fire and some fresh sets we have been working on.”
He may be highly proficient at dancing sbujwa – pantsula’s not-so-distant and more tightly dressed cousin – but he can’t deny the impact that amapiano has had on the local dance culture.
“I am happy to have lived in an era when we can have something on the dance scene globally that entirely belongs to us, and amapiano is that thing.”
The Dance Your Style competition returns for its third South African leg this year (it was postponed last year) and the finals will take place in Johannesburg.
To advance in this tournament, you will need to be a skilled battle dancer, which is no simple matter, according to Thoka.
He made his bones in this one-on-one face-off tournament.
“I appreciate all the dancers equally. A battle really requires a lot because a lot can change on stage [as opposed to] performances that are rehearsed,” he says.
Thoka will be travelling around the country with the sensational dancer and choreographer Bontle Modiselle, along with Sne Mbatha, Rudi Smit, Tebza Diphehlo and Lee Shane, who will host workshops and battles in a tour across South Africa before the actual event.
The competition is made up of 80 different events around the world, where one dancer is crowned for having the best style on the day at each event.
What makes this competition fascinating is the collision of disparate dance styles. You could easily watch a breakdancer take on someone who does sbujwa.
It is all about moving the crowd, getting them behind you and your moves.
Not only do dancers have to square off, they may even be forced to duel to the sounds of Mozart or Elvis Presley – which makes it all the more difficult for them to skilfully showcase their styles.
Thoka will tell you that to be a good dancer is to take everything in your stride.
. Catch him and the rest of the Dance Your Style alumni on their nationwide tour, which started on Wednesday