Women’s group off to hip hop champs

* From left are Samantha Mulligan, Marlene Cupido, Megan Moolman, Helgar Martin, Ivy Meyer and Levona Johnson who will be competing in the Hip Hop Unites championships in the Netherlands.

The senior women’s team of the Out of Africa Dance Academy will be competing in the international Hip Hop Unites championships in Leiden, Netherlands, from Sunday October 15 to Sunday October 22.

This will be the group’s first tour overseas.

Ivy Meyer, founder of Out of Africa Dance Academy, has been a dance teacher for the past 37 years.

She began by teaching dance to the youth but 12 years ago started a women’s dance class.

While the idea behind the women’s classes was for the parents of the dancers to get to know each other or simply for the mother’s to stay fit and get some time off, surprisingly, the women have been taking their classes seriously and have started taking part in competitions.

They have already competed in the regional South African Sports Aerobics Federation (SASAF) championships that took place at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in Bellville in May and the national championships at the Bellville Velodrome in July.

The name of the crew is Funky Culture but the women prefer
to call themselves Prestigious Women.

“The name came about when we realised that each of us has a profession behind our names. We are all prestigious women coming together as one irrespective of our profession, “ says Ms Meyer.

The women are now hard at work getting their act together for the international stage.

Speaking to Southern Mail, they all shared their stories of how they ended up at the dance aca-

SamanthaMulligan,38, enrolled her daughter at Out of Africa Dance Academy and, as she too enjoys dancing, decided to join the women’s dancing team.

Helgar Martin, 49, from Lotus River, who is also a teacher at St Dominic’s School for the Deaf, has been dancing for the dance academy for the past two years.

“I teach pre-school and Grade Rs and they also love dancing so I incorporate my dancing there too,” says Ms Martin.

Marlene Cupido, also from Lotus River, does ballroom and personal fitness training, and is he oldest member of the women’s dancing group as she will be celebrating her 60th birthday this year. “My journey with my dancing started with my daughter. She’s been dancing since the age of five and is now 28 years old, her crew collaborated with Out of Africa Dance Academy, Ivy said why don’t we start a mother’s group and we started,” said Ms Cupido who is
also a teacher at St Augustine’s Primary School

“My first competition (for another group) was in Johannesburg and then we went to dance in Austria that was the first international competition that we competed in, the experience was very good,” said Ms Cupido.

Megan Moolman, 32, from Ottery, a Grade 4 teacher at Sunlands Primary School in Kenwyn has been dancing for Out of Africa for the past five years, since her son joined thecademy. “What I love about Out of Africa is that everybody encourages everybody, there is no baby-steps, there is such a
variety of techniques that are taught.”

“Because I am the youngest in this group I look up to these women and it is just a sense of family here, when you come back it’s like you are visiting family here, it is not just a dancing school but it is a home you can feel comfortable in.”

Levona Johnson, 45, from Plumstead, joined the women’s classes in March this year.

“My daughter has been dancing with the group for five years encouraged me to join the mom’s group. I like dancing but I like playing the fool so I joined the group for fun and the next minute I realised we doing the competition and my daughter thinks it is amazing and that is a huge encouragement.

“It has been an interesting journey but very challenging as I am getting to learn this new genre of things but it is something I can do with my daughter.”

Ms Meyer added: “We are women of power, prestigious women as we all have a specific profession.

“We have to be role models as we are the seniors and the fact that we are that is a plus and we have to show our kids that we are committed to what we are doing because they really look up to us. If you ask any dancer that walks through the door, who is your role model? They would say it is someone in the women’s team.”

See story on page 14