Dancing to the front, A Unique Campaign to Emphasise Dance as Art.
by Louw Mulder
With Dancing with the Stars currently on M-Net, the underestimated popularity of modern dancing proves to be bigger than anyone thought. A lot of our stage stars in South Africa are excelling in this form of art, and not just within the borders of South Africa. JD Engelbrecht is one of those artists who have danced all over the world, and is now embarking on a video project where a series of dancing videos will aim to create awareness, and to bring the dancing to the foreground. After the release of his first video, called Zeal, I took JD out to a live broadcast of Dancing with the Stars, to get to know more about him, and his goals for this project.
JD is a professional dancer and performer, who recently made his theatre and acting debut in Evita. But as a dancer, he has already made the world his stage. Without a tertiary qualification in dancing, JD mostly taught himself, just because he knew he wanted to dance. It was through perseverance, hard work and dedication that he is now enjoying a career as a professional dancer. But first, watch his video, Zeal, then read more about the Dancer…
Working previously with various choreographers, both esteemed as well as those starting out, he participated in various projects, from flash mobs, to activations, to even large scale International extravaganzas. JD also later on qualified as a dance trainer and coach, who is now branching out into choreography as well. And in his new series of videos, he dances to his own work, his own rhythm, with his own beat.
“My goal behind these videos are to deliver original material for the entertainment industry, with the focus on dance,” he told me: “Dancing per se, is mainly used as background elements to lift the musicians in the front. This does have its place, but my aim is to put the art of dancing also under the spotlight, so the public can appreciate it as an independent form of art.”
For JD, and for many other artists in South Africa, the aim is also to bring art under the attention of financial institutions, so that dancing can too be invested in the likes of actors, sport stars, and so forth. “I therefore created this genre, where the dance is highlighted as a means to tell the story, with music as a supporting act” JD explains.
JD gets excited when he credits the team behind him in this new digital journey. “I worked with a studio called Twelve Eleven Studios, an extremely talented team of people who are focused on the arts and the quality of the product. The Director of photography is Jean-Pierre Whitfield, and the music was specifically created for this project by David Houston. JD is proud to be responsible for the development of the concept and the choreography.
The message behind Zeal, is the tale about the battle most artists go through, even JD himself, especially through the forming phases of his career. He describes this battle as the process where art has to cross difficult stormy waters before it reaches the success on the other side. “There is no singular formula for this success” he adds: “ Each and every artist must discover this for himself, on his unique way, but the difficulty within this process lies within the phenomenon that not the same respect is unearthed as in other careers”.
Through our conversation, as JD takes me through his video, it became clear that an artist in general is only left with his passion for what he or she does, and the love they have for their craft must be cherished. “My message is that everyone must continuously strive to give life to his or her passion, despite the difficult challenges everyone will face.” he said.
Through this video, JD hopes to convey his message about his Walk of Life, which is filled with struggles and uncertainty. “Through the medium of dance, I want to show others that if you really want something, and you are passionate about it, the journey will be worth it, hence the title of this video, Zeal.”
Our time during this live broadcast, was short and fun, and what I can say about this well-defined young man, is that even though JD have seen the world, made his mark, and is yet to achieve his peak, his humble and authentic personality, his view on life, and in particular the way I saw him interact with other people, showed me that the success for this artist, is being achieved with both feet firmly on the ground… except when he dances.
JD is currently touring with the International cast of Evita, not that his visits to 12 countries in the last two years were enough! Through this all, he is working on the second instalment of his dance series, so keep an eye on Stage and Screen’s Facebook page, because we will post the whole series as and when it gets released.