Published in PRIVATE TIME 2016

Every second year, Rolex sponsors a Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative across the fields of dance, architecture, film, theatre, visual arts, literature and music. South African Londiwe Khoza has been named the protégée in dance for 2016-2017.

FOLLOWING A RIGOROUS GLOBAL SEARCH, Cape Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA) graduate Londiwe Khoza has been hand-picked to participate as dance protégée in the 2016-2017 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

She was nominated anonymously for the prized Rolex mentorship by an independent panel of influential artists and arts professionals. ‘The organisers called me to announce my candidacy the day after my birthday,’ says Khoza, 22, who until then had been unaware of the programme’s existence.

In the same way that the Rolex Awards for Enterprise were introduced in the ’70s to develop budding scientists, conservationists and explorers, the arts initiative was born in 2002 from the Swiss watchmaking company’s eagerness to nurture young dancers, musicians, theatre directors, writers, architects, visual artists and filmmakers – and help pass on great art from generation to generation.

The idea of mentorship was considered more appropriate for the arts, because the ‘chance to benefit from the experience of one of the world’s greatest exponents in their discipline is an unparalleled opportunity for these young artists’, said Rebecca Irvin, head of philanthropy at Rolex. ‘Rolex gives the mentor an honorarium of 50 000 Swiss francs [about $51 000] and the protégé is given a stipend of 25 000 Swiss francs [about $25 500] for the year, plus the possibility of a further 25 000 Swiss francs [about $25 500] after the year is over, to put towards a piece of work or project to extend the mentoring.’

As part of the nomination process, Khoza was invited to submit a written application revealing her experience and motivation as a dancer and to provide action footage of her on stage and in class. Then it was up to this season’s mentor, the acclaimed Batsheva artistic director Ohad Naharin, to choose his protégé from four finalists during a five-day assessment in Tel Aviv, Israel, in March 2016. private-time-2016-cover

Since graduating from CAPA in 2015, Khoza has performed with Joburg Ballet and co-written the script for #BalletMustFall – a ‘largely satirical dance play that uses on-point humour and personal narrative to critique the South African dance industry’ – staged at Cape Town’s Alexander Bar earlier this year. She has performed in the 25-year-anniversary season of the Cape Dance Company (CDC), A Thousand Shepherds, at Artscape Theatre and joined the company’s tour to the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn.

Next up for her is the annual National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July, which features CDC on the main programme for the first time. ‘I am so proud of Londiwe, a CAPA graduate and CDC member, to have been selected from dancers worldwide for such an incredible opportunity,’ says CDC artistic director Debbie Turner. ‘This is well deserved.’

Khoza says she feels honoured to be a product of CAPA, where she spent the ‘most challenging, inspiring and fulfilling’ years of her life. ‘I’m now at the beginning of a long, exciting journey,’ she says, well aware that it will not be without its challenges. ‘There are moments when you question your abilities, your value, who you are and where you are in life. But those are the moments when you need to believe in yourself and stay true to who you are. Everything happens for a reason and you’re not where you are in life by mistake,’ she adds.

How does Khoza stay fit and healthy? ‘I don’t have a special diet. I walk a lot and I try to do a class every day. I like coming to CAPA for ballet in the morning because I know I’m going to get a good class. I hate gym so I thought I’d try yoga. Someone told me it would make me really calm… and I like the way 60-year-old women who do yoga every day look 40.’
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