Paul Modjadji is a Johannesburg dancer, he is best described as a dancer “so versatile and so smart , he can literally do anything.”
The Award Winning dancer only received his formal training in his later years. Straight after his matric, he obtained a scholarship to attend the Dancevaerkstedet Dance Foundation in Denmark. After spending one year in Denmark, Paul came back home to further his studies at the Tswane University of Technology Dance department.
Paul has had an impressive journey in the business, I don’t even know where to start to highlight his achievements. In 2011, Modjadji became the first South African to win the European Dance Championship. In 2013 he was recognized as a top dancer at the Talent America Showcase. The dancers choreography projects include, Africa’s first made for cinema Dance Film Hear me move, SABC Crown Gospel Awards and Gauteng Sport Awards amongst others. In 2014 he became the brand ambassador for the Austrian Dance based Organisation ESDU.
A young man of many talents and limitless potential, Paul is also a philanthropist working towards uplifting young talent in the township across South Africa. Modjadji established the Dance To Dream Foundation with the aim of empowering young people to follow their dreams. The foundation offers free art ,drama and leadership programs to disadvantaged youngsters in Haarmanskraal, north of Pretoria. Paul’s next project is to raise funds to build dance academics in townships.
Paul takes time to the time to answer questions about the lessons of his early training , what inspires him as a dancer , and what he hopes may be next.
What’s been your career highlight to date?
In a weird twisted way, this would have been a simple question to answer a year ago. However at the moment I must honestly say I feel my career highlight is yet to come. I am of course extremely grateful for my past accomplishments and some of the most rewarding projects I’ve had the privilege of being part of.
Who/what inspires you in your dance career?
I am continually inspired by fresh talents of younger generations that are always emerging forward . I love seeing young highly talented dancers take ownership of a moment or a dance space. Professionally I am inspired by folks like Greg Maqoma , Misty Copeland, and unstoppable entertainers such as Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce. I am drawn to artist with a strong work ethic and relentless energy to keep pushing boundaries.
What lessons from your dance training have proven most valuable?
The one lesson from my dance training that has proven most valuable to me has to be that exposure and education are priceless. I am invested in exposing myself to other forms of culture and styles, I take great joy in not just teaching dance but taking classes from other teachers who specialise in styles I am not particularly versed at. This desire to learn and to be open to learning has also impacted my creative process , I find great joy in collaborations in as much as I revel in working in isolation.
If you could give advise for aspiring young dancers, what did you discover about the industry that you would want others to know about?
If could impart one piece of advise to any dancer out there, is to remain committed to the art-form. There is no time for an ego when one tabs into genuine passion and talent. The life of a dancer doesn’t have to be one spent in contest or competition, one can find equal joy in focusing one one’s journey and individual performance while finding space to collaborate and share space with other creatives. If you are going to turn it into a career path you will go far when you are driven by genuine interest in the work. As the say goes “Stay in your lane”.
What’s next for Paul Modjadji?
What’s next for me is further exploration of my creative direction and film making interest. I have a deeper interest in telling our stories.
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