Nadan Voetpad dances along the trail to opportunity
The human spirit’s unquenchable drive for originality and compulsion for creating art is the compelling force of our humanity.
Nadan Voetpad is 19 and he cannot remember a time when he was not drawn to movement and the joy of dancing. Third place in a local competition at age 10 sparked his competitive nature and he became thirsty for new input and new moves. When a friend with some dance background and a world-wise cousin finally opened his eyes to what could really be done in the world of dance, Nadan realised this was going to take more than just monkeying around – to be good at his passion he would have to actually practice moves.
Nadan is drawn to hip-hop, but his own style is quite unique. He gets a lot of inspiration from youtube – check out his favourite youtube channels: Urban Dance and Matt Steffanina. His workflow for putting together a dance sequence is testimony to his artist’s soul – he takes inspiration from the music. He listens to a wide variety of music. When something stands out to him, he listens to that piece several times and then the ideas and the moves start flowing. People often ask him how dancing feels to him. He says he forgets about everything negative in his life when he dances. From the first move he becomes the happiest he can ever be.
Enjoying dance for the pleasure of the movement, the release it brings and the challenge of new steps is inspiring, but it is not enough to build a future. How does a boy from a small and isolated community translate a dream into a future? There is no easy way. When you face many obstacles you have to be even more vigilant for opportunity, however small, and here lies one of Nadan’s many strengths.
In the past three years Nadan did not miss an opportunity to showcase his dancing and he was prepared to put in the work necessary to stand out. Auditioning for the Prince Albert #US4Us concert three years ago put him in first place for outstanding local talent. The lead-up to the concert showed him how coaching could improve his performance and over the next two years Nadan became a lead figure in the #US4US project. Putting in the effort, he improved his work every year, inspiring other participants and building his confidence to the level where he could act as junior Master of Ceremonies at the past two events.
When the 2019 #US4US concert rolled around, the time was right – Nadan’s performance impressed a representative from Dance for All, a non-profit developmental dance school in Athlone, Cape Town that trains dancers from historically disadvantaged communities. Nadan was invited to audition for their Bridging Programme. (See the end notes for more on Dance for All and the Bridging Programme)
Auditions were nerve wracking – for three hours a group of dancers were shown a series of contemporary dance moves at a time. If you could perform the steps after being shown twice, you could move on to the next set of moves. Nadan says he felt like giving up, but then remembered how far he had come and that thought focussed his efforts to manage the moves. Despite holding his own for a number of rounds against fellow competitors who had all received formal dance training, Nadan fell out of the first round of auditions.
Instead of giving up on his hopes, Nadan took this from the audition experience: to succeed he would have to dance every day, persevere, get very fit and be totally focused. This he set out to do and with the help of local dance coach, Corben Pienaar, he improved his fitness and built up his confidence in his dance skills. A good thing too, because a month after the first auditions, Nadan got a call back and now he is the proud recipient of a bursary to attend the Bridging Programme.
PACT put out a call for support on its facebook page and in a short time members from Nadan’s North End community were all willing to sponsor a small monthly amount towards his monthly R 1 500 need for transport, food and personal needs. Nadan will start his 10 month course on 3 February 2020 and by the end of the year he hopes to have gained enough skill and confidence to either pursue a future in dance or gain access to further study opportunities.
This man is an inspiration to the young crowd in Prince Albert. When he walks down the street, he is greeted by everyone, often with a little quip about his dancing. His school honoured him with two awards at the end of his matric year in 2019 – the Ambassador’s award for his goal orientated approach to life and the Headmaster’s award for best achievement by a young person from a challenging background.
Nadan’s surname, ‘Voetpad’ translates to ‘trail’. Like a good trail runner, Nadan has stuck to the course, persevered when he felt like giving up and used the difficult sections to get stronger. He cannot know where the trail will take him next, but we in his own words, he cannot believe the way things turned out for him and he will give it all he has.
More about Dance for All – www.danceforall.co.za
The Dance for All mission
Our mission is to provide children in historically disadvantaged communities with the opportunity for enjoyment, empowerment and the promotion of self-esteem through the medium of dance, as well as training professional dancers and developing a unique, indigenous dance company.