Odwa aims to be beacon of hope

Odwa says he wants to change the negative perception about the ballet dance in the township.

Ballet dancing is not popular in the township and many consider it to be for women only.

But this negative perception has not deterred Lindokuhle Makanda, popularly known as Odwa, from pursuing a career as a professional ballet dancer.

The 24-year-old started dancing at the age of nine at Dance for All in Athlone.

He continued with them until their bridging programme, which allowed him to take his training further.

He then received a scholarship from the Cape Academy of Performing Arts to complete their training course over three years.

Since graduating, Odwa has danced for the Cape Dance Company and Darkroom Contemporary.

He attended the Alonzo King Lines Summer programme in San Francisco, in America, in 2017.

He also performed for Darkroom Contemporary in 2017 and danced for the company at the Baxter Dance Festival in 2018 which would ran from October 4 to 13.

He also received a scholarship with The New Ballet in San Francisco, after which he danced for
a professional company in San
Francisco called Robert Moses
Kin Dance Company early this year and toured with the company to Nevada.

But since returning to Cape Town, he has been working as a freelance dancer, performing with Darkroom Contemporary.

He told Vukani that he was introduced to dance when he was still at Walter Teka Primary School in Nyanga .

He would look through the
window and watch dancers as
they performed, fascinated by their moves which he had never seen before.

He said he was soon called to join them but worried that he was not good enough.

His fear led to him not attending practice for a month but he found the courage to return to class
and has never looked back. Odwa said when he completed matric
in 2012 he had already made up
his mind that he wanted to be a dancer.

He said his parents had triemany times to persuade him to further his studies in another field.

However, Odwa had already made up his mind.

In 2014, he started his training at the Cape Academy of Performing Arts and graduated in 2016 with a three-year diploma in performing arts.

He said ballet had opened many doors for him and has introduced him to new things in life.

He said when he was young he never thought that he could be a dancer full time.

“People said negative things about ballet but I never listened to them. I don’t live to impress others. I have chosen this journey and I intend to walk it.

“I told myself that I don’t need to prove myself to anyone but to myself.

“I want to make this dance popular,” he said.

Odwa wants to be beacon hope for other young people who want to be ballet dancers.

He said through the dance he has also learnt the vital skills of how to treat women.

Talking about the future plans, he said he hopes to see an academy of dance in the township.

He said there was a demand for black male ballet dancers.

He said people needed to realise that one could actually make a living out of dance and there were plenty of opportunities.