Growing up in the dusty streets of Botshabelo, Tebogo Letele fell in love with dancing when he saw a hip-hop dance group performing at the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (Pacofs) while he was on a school tour in 2003. He describes his childhood as normal for any child growing up in a rural area and although there isn’t much inspiration and development for arts in rural areas, Letele took part in drama while he was in high school.
He joined a community group called Qhubeka Dance Group under the facilitation of David Hala Hala in 2006. “That is when I decided to dance fulltime, nothing else. I came to Moving into Dance Mophatong as a student in 2009 and I was chosen to join the professional company the following year,” he adds.
Letele has been selected as part of the second Boda Boda Lounge Project. The Boda Boda Lounge Project is a cross-continental film festival that rotates around 11 spaces throughout the African continent and also includes an online exhibition for added reach.
His film, Ho Shwa Ka Thaba (To the Grave), was exhibited alongside 29 other works from ten African countries and profiled by 15 host organisations during November 2016 in Johannesburg. “To have secured a film slot in the Boda Boda Lounge Project means a gateway to expose my work to Africa and internationally. It affirms that I have adventurous creativity skills in me as a dancer,” says Letele.
Reaching this milestone has impacted him to re-think his career. “This changes everything, especially the way I think about my dance career and the fact that dancing is not just for stage. And my film is testament to this. I’m definitely going to explore some ways to express dance as an art form.”
Letele has composed music for a few Moving into Dance Mophatong repertoires and is currently facilitating Edudance workshops in Harare and other cities around Zimbabwe. When in the country, he teaches dancing lessons in Soweto and runs choreography projects in the Free State as part of the Moving into Dance Mophatong outreach programme. This is his way of giving back to the community, by taking dance to the people and being a living example that dance can be both a professional and fulfilling career to make a living of.
Inspired by life, Letele draws his creativity from everyday stories. “Everything I hear, read and see brings some inspiration to my work one way or another,” he adds. – Seithati Semenokane