MASERU — Professional dancers are for the first time expected to compete in this country during the second Lesotho Independence Day Latin and Ballroom Dance Festival to be held on October 3 at Lehakoe Club in Maseru.
Lesotho celebrates its independence on October 4.
Latin and ballroom dance competitions are held regularly in Lesotho — including the fete to celebrate Queen ’Masenate Mohato Seeiso’s birthday — but at amateur level.
However, as Lesotho celebrates its 43rd year of independence career dancers are expected to grace the festival that Kojang Pebane (pictured) is organising.
Pebane, a dance teacher under the guidance of South Africa’s Born to Move Dancing School, said she had sent invitation letters to professionals in the neighbouring country.
She was hopeful she would get confirmation from the professionals before the festival.
“I am not at liberty to mention them by name at this stage,” Pebane said.
“I can only tell you who they are after they have confirmed their attendance.
“All I can tell you is that we will have professionals competing for the first time in Lesotho.
“These are the people who have made dancing their means of livelihood and they learned it at school.”
Pebane said the competition will be open to all dancers, amateurs included.
There will be bronze, silver and gold medals for the competitors.
The winners will also go home with vouchers from various sponsors.
Professionals will also get prize money although Pebane was not at liberty to disclose the amounts.
There will be different categories for the festival, starting with the “tiny tots” for children under six years of age.
Under-12s will feature in the juvenile category, while those under 16 will compete in the junior category.
“These categories do not have professionals because our rules forbid any person under the age of 18 to become a professional,” Pebane said.
The professionals will be in the youth, adult and seniors categories for people aged 18 years and above.
Champions from last year’s competition were Thato Sibandane and partner Mando Mokhethi in the junior category.
In the juvenile section the champions were Makatsa Zachia and Seapehi Molise.
Vincent Malesa and Bonolo Kgole were the youth champions, while Leuta Leuta and Ntlhoisi Bebi took the honours in the adult category.
“Last year’s champions will have to defend their trophies,” Pebane said.
She however said expressed concern that some couples from last year’s festival might not longer be together.
“They might have gone to different universities and therefore separated,” she said.
“Those who will not make it to the festival to defend their titles will have to hand over the floating trophies.”
Meanwhile, Pebane is learning advanced dance techniques from London-based trainer Anne Lingard, a Fellow Examiner of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance.
Born to Move Dance School invites Lingard to hold workshops in Johannesburg for various levels of dances.
Pebane bemoaned the slow growth of dance sport, citing the lack of sponsorship.
She appealed to the local business community to sponsor dance sport, especially helping in buying dance attire.
“We have talented youth in Lesotho but due to lack of attire some refrain from dance,” she said.
“They cannot compete anywhere in the world if they do not have proper dance attire.
“We have a long way to go in order to attain professionalism.“But with the help of our business community we can reach there.”