Young South African’s are doing amazing things in different spaces by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to them and creating opportunities where they are not. While running an NGO, a media company and preparing to take part in Talent America Showcase, one of the most prestigious talent competitions in the world, Paul Modjadji is definitely a young person to watch.
Who is Paul Modjadji and where are you from?
Paul is a son, brother, performer, storyteller, and passionate social developer.
When did you start dancing?
I have been dancing since I was a kid. I practically used to teach myself dancing by watching dance movies like Sarafina and Fame.
Which artists inspire you?
Internationally, Beyonce because of her work ethic. Both Michael and Janet Jackson inspired me during my formative years. Later on, Oprah for her excellence in mastering the craft of broadcasting. Tyler Perry recently for pushing to tell his stories uncompromised. At home, DJ Sbu, Bonang Matheba, Khabonina Qubeka, and Dr Felicia Mabuza inspire me for various reasons. They all share one thing though. They are driven and seem to make every second of their day count. Oh and then there’s Zonke Dikana for nothing more than her artistry. She is one of the few remaining true artists. She’s actually an endangered species; a purist.
As an artist, can a person establish a career as a dancer?
Absolutely, and it’s my life mission to live to prove that. I think I take from people like Somizi Mhlongo and Greg Maqoma who are championing that message. I respect them both highly for showing the rest of us that here in Africa too, like in most western countries; one can make a profession out of the art of dance.
Tell us about some of the awards and championships you have received or been involved in?
The three major ones are the Global Young Leaders Award I received from Washington DC, being crowned the first African jazz world champion at the European Star Dance Union World masters, and recently the NYDA South African Youth Award.
What struggles do you face as a dancer?
Mainly sponsorship and funding. Like any art or sport dancers rely on financial backing to be able to focus on their craft. Sadly in SA, we still have some ground to cover with regards to getting big brands such as Nike, Adidas etc to invest in dancers.
What support is given locally to people who are engaged in the arts and culture sector?
South Africans in general are art lovers, so consumers are supportive. We have an audience. We may not necessarily pack our theatres, but we certainly have a culture of supporting and being interested in the arts.
How are you using your craft to give back to your community?
Through my Dare to Dream project; an initiative I use to go into communities using art disciplines such as dance, music, drama to ignite a culture of dreaming and daring to go after those dreams. My work with Dare to Dream is both a training and mentoring initiative. I want to see young leaders who are in charge of their own destinies from our townships.
What other projects are you involved in?
I run a media company called Imvula Pula Entertainment where we do publicity and talent management services. I am currently also working on producing cabaret productions for Sun International. And then of course I am thrilled about representing SA at Talent America Showcase in July!
How can aspiring dancers access mentorship in this field?
Through engaging with individuals within the industry, joining dance studios or colleges, or simply starting their own groups. Lots of us started in community groups at home.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Plenty, but for starters you can look forward to seeing my work on a made-for-cinema dance movie called “Hear me Move!” It is South Africa’s first made-for-cinema dance movie and I am thrilled to have been commissioned to choreograph it.