Muzi Nyembezi started dancing as soon as he started walking, but it wasn’t until he was 8 years old that he realised he had a unique talent as friends started encouraging him to start dancing at school functions and events. He is known well for Durban Gqom Bhenga, but this versatile dancer’s ability does not stop there: he can dance to RnB, Hip-Hop and Amapiano. Read our Q&A with this dancer to find out what it takes to make it pro in the world of dance. 

“Dance was, and is, a unique and essential human activity that connects us to the musical rhythms of life.” – Muzi

How has dance changed your identity and day-to-day life? 

Dance utilizes the entire body and is an excellent form of exercise for total body fitness. I still go to the gym but dance makes working out so much more fun. Dancing can become very addictive and an essential part of your identity, but not every dancer is the same. Keep up the good work and the routine, but every now and again push yourself that tiny bit more by for example attending workshops or even residential dance courses.

In your opinion, how does dance come to life through culture in South Africa?

South African dance is unique in its vitality and energy. The traditional dance is inspired by wedding ceremonies, battles, rituals and everyday life. Music and dance have always been strongly connected in South Africa. This may be the reason why there are so many talented dancers and choreographers in the country. Many of them can be seen on international stages. The connection between music and dance is also evident in the extensive use of dance in musicals written by South African composers. 

Has SA adopted and evolved dance genres through culture?

Dance styles are closely tied to the cultures in which they develop and they change over time in correspondence to changing society. Dance is also an evolving language. Every gesture and move has its own history and cultural derivation. A wave, a handshake, a thumbs-up: these can all be thought of as forms of dance used in everyday life. The way we move and communicate with our hands and bodies is both an expression of our culture and our identity.

What does it mean “to move”?

I can describe it as change or development

Do you believe dance empowers freedom of expression?

Dance makes us alive. Dance was, and is, a unique and essential human activity that connects us to the musical rhythms of life. Through dancing, you become more of yourself as you become one with others.

What’s your favourite retro dance genre (vogue, MC etc.)

Vintage.

Who is the most iconic dancer of all time? How does he/she inspire you?

Michael Jackson. He changed dance history. With just a few glides backward, Jackson made dance history when he introduced the ‘Moonwalk‘ in 1983. The move, though, was already popular among West Coast streetdancers who were using a precise, mechanized style of movement called ‘Popping’

How does dance affect the development of culture in South Africa?

Dance is important. It enables students to better understand themselves and the world in which they live. Through the arts, teachers can often teach children to recognize the contribution of all cultures to the fabric of our society and increase the understanding of diversity and values of all people.

Is dance something that could strengthen and build a community and a family?

It expands social and cultural interaction and provides an overall community feeling of well-being and togetherness. The motivation imparted to its pupils by a competent school of dance, provides self-discipline which shows itself in a variety of socially beneficial ways.

Do you feel more at home in your skin when you dance?

Sometimes you critique yourself and feel shy around others when you can’t find ways to feel comfortable in your own skin, rather than embracing yourself for who you are. So basically, dancing is your cure for happiness! 

How does dance affect the development of culture in South Africa?

Dance is important. It enables students to better understand themselves and the world in which they live. Through the arts, teachers can often teach children to recognize the contribution of all cultures to the fabric of our society and increase the understanding of diversity and values of all people.

Is dance something that could strengthen and build a community and a family?

It expands social and cultural interaction and provides an overall community feeling of well-being and togetherness. The motivation imparted to its pupils by a competent school of dance, provides self-discipline which shows itself in a variety of socially beneficial ways.

Do you feel more at home in your skin when you dance?

Sometimes you critique yourself and feel shy around others when you can’t find ways to feel comfortable in your own skin, rather than embracing yourself for who you are. So basically, dancing is your cure for happiness!  

What’s a uniquely South African dance?

Sokkie dancing or “langarm” finds its roots in and amongst the Afrikaner Voortrekkers who made their way to the Highveld two centuries ago.

When did you start dancing and what inspires you to dance?

I was a jack-of-all-trades kid. I started dancing when I started walking. In 2007, back when I was 8 years old, I didn’t know how capable, talented or gifted I am until one of my friends encouraged me to perform at school functions or assembly.Watching videos and seeing live performances kept me motivated. I just love dancing because it provides me a way to express my emotions and it adds dimension to my life.

How would you describe your genre of dancing and what’s your favourite dance move right now? 

I’m a versatile person I can dance to RnB, Hip-Hop and Amapiano but, the most thing I’m know for is ‘Durban Gqom Bhenga‘. ‘Gqom’ is known for its beats which have a minimal, raw and repetitive sound with heavy bass. My favourite dance move right now is ‘Jeet‘.