Amanzimtoti dancers claimed gold at the South African Championship of Performing Arts (SACOPA) showcase held at the Rustenburg Civic Centre in the North West Province.
Alma van Heerden (15) and Robyn Hill (16) of dance duo ‘Atomic’ were part of a 53-man KZN team which competed at SACOPA, the largest competitive showcase of performing arts talent in South Africa, during the April school holidays.
Provincial teams competed in a number of performing arts disciplines such as vocal, dance, acting, modelling and variety arts for a chance to be selected to the South African team to compete at the World Championships in Los Angeles, at an event dubbed the Olympics of Performing Arts.
Alma and Robyn, who are both Kuswag Skool pupils, represented KZN in two dancing duets – open and hip hop – with choreography done by Minette Landman, and two production line dances in the same genres, with choreography by Keegan Barnes. In addition, Alma also represented KZN in two acting monologues, open and dramatical, overseen by her acting coach and Kuswag drama teacher, Magdel Brand.
“I’ve been dancing since grade 5 and it instantly became a passion. Robyn has been dancing with me since we started at Rhythmic Arts Academy, with the most amazing choreographer, Minette Landman. She’s an amazing dancer and teacher who has helped us so much,” said Alma, who is in grade 10. “We did the production line because of the amazing exposure to other hip hop dance styles it gave me.
Keegan is a well-known choreographer and he taught us so much. We had to go for auditions to be part of his dance crew,” said grade 11 pupil, Robyn.
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“I did the acting because I have really developed a love for the performing arts since I first set foot on stage. I wanted to try something new. The acting was a really great experience and I would love to do it again next year,” said Alma.
“We were shocked to our core to discover we had done so well,” said the girls. “We didn’t expect anything, as all the dancers were insanely good and we didn’t think we stood a chance. There were 3,000 entries representing all nine provinces.
When they called out Atomic for our first medal, we were barely listening to the announcements. It was only when our moms hit us over the heads to go on stage that we realised we had won a medal. It was an amazing feeling knowing we were just as good as the people we didn’t think we stood a chance against.”
Both girls have been performing for five years. They have been dancing at the same studio for five years but it was only in the last three years that they started doing duets together. They don’t belong to any performance clubs or take extra classes but they try to attend auditions as often as possible, which is how they were afforded the opportunity to dance with Keagan Barnes.
Besides performance art, Alma enjoys playing hockey and has been playing in her school’s first hockey team since grade 9. She was part of Kuswag’s ATKV tienertoneel team since grade 8 and hopes to make the cut again this year. Robyn is a talented athlete and part of the cheerleading squad at Kuswag.
“I want to go as far as I can with my performing. I would love to become a household name in the world of performing arts,” said Alma. “I would love be part of a dance company and eventually become a dance teacher,” said Robyn. “We both would love to go back to SACOPA next year and hopefully make the SA team again, so we could go to go to Los Angeles and train at the Millennium Dance Complex. We want to do a lot more items next year too, such as solos and group entries.”
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