Teaching tomorrow’s ballet stars in Gugulethu

The Move for Two dance school has classes three times a week in a classroom at Bonga Primary school

Text and Photos by Ashraf Hendricks

24 August 2021

Phaphama Lolwana (in purple) enjoying her dance class hosted by the NPO Move for Two at Bonga Primary in Gugulethu, Cape Town.

Twelve-year-old Lithemba Ngceshe wants to be a ballet dancer when she grows up. “I love dancing and it’s part of my talents,” says Lithemba, who has been dancing at the “Move for Two” dance school in Gugulethu for three years.

She is one of the children who come together in an empty classroom at Bonga Primary in Gugulethu, Cape Town, where Nastasha Coetsee and Jessica Bester have been teaching a mixture of contemporary and African dance to children since 2017.

Both danced at professional level and they wanted to share their passion with children who might not otherwise be able to afford classes.

Dancer Anam Nocanda sits in the light during her lesson last week

“We both know just how much dance has taught us and what a privilege it is to have had dance in our lives,” says Coetsee.

The classes cater for children between six and 16.

The classroom at Bonga Primary in Gugulethu where Move for Two holds dance classes three times a week after school

Coetsee says one of the challenges was building trust with the children and in the community as many organisations are known to “come and go” in the area. “It’s about consistency and proving our consistency to our kids.”

The dance school relies on donations through the Back a Dancer project. “We need someone’s heart moved, so that they can donate, so that our children can move”. This is how they came up with the name ‘Move for Two’.

A monthly R200 donation allows one child to attend at least one dance class a week. Covid-19 has disrupted routines, but the school hopes to host its annual dance showcase next year.

Dance keeps children’s minds active and helps them learn discipline, says dance instructor Mesuli Nale. It also teaches them self-esteem “and how to build relationships among each other”.

Thandekile Mkona in the centre of a dance routine with her fellow dancers

“Our aim is to raise little dancers who are talented and able to find a future in dance” and to “give these children a purpose, a safe space to express themselves and to be creative”, says Coetsee.