A dancer with her roots firmly in Mitchell’s Plain has won the Iconic Urban Dance Award for female of the year 2019.
The awards are run by co-founder Kwezi Mtulu to acknowledge hard-working and renowned dancers in the industry, throughout the year.
A dancer, choreographer, coach and teacher, Anuq Wilson was surprised to receive the accolade on Saturday January 26 at the Iconic Urban Dance Awards at the Academia Theatre in Lansdowne.
“I was nominated for this award last year and I didn’t think I deserved it. I am really proud that I have come this far,” said Anuq, 31, who grew up in Lentegeur.
Her late mother, Valda Maxine Wilson, who died in 2017 was strict with her three children. Education was important to Ms Wilson, said Anuq. “My mom believed in respect, obedience and good manners. She believed we could be our own person. Hard work was a big part of what she preached.”
Anuq loved school and was inspired by her Grade 3 teacher Ms La-Vita’s choreography for their school production at Rosmead Central Primary School in Claremont. Her love for dance continued throughout her high school career at Livingstone High School in Claremont and she took part in every show and production the school staged.
Children teased her at school because of how thin she was but dancing offered her a way to overcome the bullying.
“They said I wasn’t pretty. They were nasty. I took those words and made it my own. Dancing was the one thing that nobody could take from me. It was the one place I felt safe, and knew belonged to me. It was something that became part of my DNA.”
She said her high school friends Robyn Williams, Nicole Ludolph, Tina Matsimella and Rushdah Hartley encouraged her to dance. All that positivity helped her. “Surround yourself with like-minded people who all want the best for you, pushing you to your limits,” said Anuq.
Her youth group at Shekinah Full Gospel Church in Beacon Valley would visit other youth groups and it was during a cypher session, for freestyle dancing, that somebody saw her dance and asked her to join a crew called Hybrid.
She competed in many underground dance competitions with the crew and that was her stepping stone into the South African dance industry.
Anuq applied to the University of the Western Cape in 2006 to study law for three years but did not go back to varsity in 2008 as she wanted to pursue a career as a dancer. She said her mother encouraged her. “She believed in my goals and dreams of becoming a dancer.”
One of her dreams came true when she opened her own dance school in 2015 called The Cypher SA Dance Academy, hosting novice to championship level dancers. She coaches and trains her students, along with teachers Delron Davids, Bradley Deetlefs and Emmanuel Thlodlana.
Her student, Jesse Segal, 20, started at the dance academy three years ago, not knowing how to dance and tried freestyle. “I found Anuq through a friend. I needed to grow as a person through dance. She grooms me and pushes me to my limits. Her choreography is unbelievable. She opened the door for me and gave me an opportunity, I am so grateful.”
She worked with renowned and influential dancers such as those associated with Black Noise, Ubuntu, Azanian Flames and Angelo van Wyk. She has also worked with local SA artists such as Khaya Mthetwa, Proverb, AKA and Nadia Nakai.
“The best way to learn fast is to dive in and drown in it. I still attend classes to work my craft and learn,” said Anuq.
She was also trained by Kumari Suraj, 36, from Portland, USA, who has 30 years of dancing experience and taught Anuq dance techniques in house, vogue, waacking, hip hop, dancehall, and popping and locking in 2018.
“This was a very big part of my journey and has shaped me into who I am today.
“Many people told me making a career out of dancing is not sustainable, and look at me now. Nobody can tell you that your dream is not attainable; you decide what that is and you make it happen.”
Her older brother, Velgin Wilson, 41, said: “Determined, dedicated and passionate, that’s my sister. To see how she has grown from that little girl into the person she is today, is amazing.
“She has fought hard for her position in society. Involving children and travelling the world, I am very proud of my little sister. I know there is more to come.”
Anuq said there was no dream that is too small. “If your dreams do not scare you, they’re not big enough. Your dreams should scare you into action. People should aspire to work hard and not give up on their dreams.”