Nqobilé Danseur’s name ironically sells her story straight away. You may recognise her from a few, if not every Afrobeats video thats broken new ground. Perhaps, as the WCW beauty that had Davido ready to risk it all and empty his bank account in ‘If’. Or, setting pace with Maleek Berry in ‘Control’.
All in all, this “unicorn” (as she calls herself), has become synonymous with visual storytelling through dance. As a trio, Nqobilé and CEO dancers brought rhythm to Britains Got Talent, that had Simon catching feelings live on a family show. Nqobilé has trailblazed African dance and culture around the world. What was once a dream, has now become her profession – a style of dance that has garnered the interest & respect of the likes of Kanye West, Rihanna and Drake. She fondly recalls the days when African choreographers – if not all types of dancers – weren’t held in the same regards as other artists. Wayyy before the Fuse ODG dance numbers and Azonto.
“Being a woman and having danced and worked with mostly male artists I learnt very quickly to respect myself at all times and stand my ground from the get go. People especially men in the industry have had no choice but to respect me.”
If you ever get the privilege of meeting her, behind her beautiful smile you’ll hear her endearing South African twang. Don’t worry…you’ll be hearing it soon, as she’s set to release her own music. But for now, keep that in mind and read on as Nqobilé gives her two cents on her style, breakthrough, Africa rising as part of our Revolution Is Women feature.
How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Daring, yet laidback.
Choose One: “Africa to the World” or “The World to Africa”?
The World to Africa.
The world NEEDS to see and experience the true AFRICA (whole of Africa). If people had the opportunity to experience and learn about Africa, I feel they would truly understand what a great people we are and how magical Africa is. Our food, our culture, our music, diverse talents, strength, beauty, faith, vibrancy, the world definitely can and does draw a lot of inspiration from Africa! It’s not about us going out there [rest of the world] to show or prove to the world how extraordinary we are, the world is watching. There’s that fascination for more, something refreshing and different, and Africa is where it’s at.
The breakthrough of African music and style?…
I think it’s incredible, what a time to be alive!! The way the African sound has totally intrigued and captured the world. I mean, even now when you go on Instagram you see a lot of Afrobeat dance videos going viral on big platforms, mainstream celebrities posting or singing along to African music and supporting the Afrobeat movement.
I was at the airport the other day and Wizkid’s music was casually playing on mainstream radio. Crazyyyy!! This was super refreshing to me. I remember when I first entered the industry 7 years ago, the only time I could hear any type of African music was during rehearsals, at a concert we’re performing in or at an Nigerian hall party on Saturday (I have a lot of Nigerian Yoruba friends, hall parties are a big thing) lol! So now to hear Afrobeats playing casually on mainstream radio is amazing. Now we’re even spoilt for choice, African music has so many flavours. From the beautiful South African house and now super popular Gqom sound, Rap, traditional Afrobeats to my favourite; new skool Afro music with artists like Maleek Berry, J Hus, Nonso Amadi. African music, particularly Afrobeats is super diverse now and it’s so exciting to have watched the journey and transition of it.
From your dancing to dress sense, do you feel it’s important to rep SA (South Africa) in all you do?
Absolutely. All the way!! As much as I relate so much and love other African cultures, it’s so important that I don’t lose that essence of who I truly am; a South African woman. And with that – especially as I’ve been heavily involved and influenced in the West African culture throughout my whole career in this business – I feel it’s super important to show my South African culture in every way. Especially as our style and vibe is not “out there” and as popular as the Afrobeat/ West African culture. That’s why when I have taught dance workshops I’ve used South African music throughout, to introduce that culture in my field. Even down to my snaps, I’m always sharing South African new music and vibes. It’s key!
Your favourite designers?
My current faves are Innocentemessy and Ohema’s Closet. Innocentemessy actually made me a few dope pieces for my first music video which we shot in South Africa. Her designs are so edgy and rare and that’s definitely my vibe.
One Career Highlight you can’t stop reliving…
SUMMER SIXTEEN TOUR. It’s by far the best life experience so far in soooo many ways. I still draw inspiration daily from the memories and moments I lived. That entire experience is the juice, the boost I needed for this next stage of my life. I truly experienced the term “EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE” and my life will never be the same.
What does it take for a (Black, African) woman to succeed or get a top role in the industry?
The reality is that the entertainment industry is male dominated first of all. Then on top of that to be Black and be in possession of a top role in this industry is rare. However, it has been done and can continuously be done! I personally believe in working not only hard but smart. Being on top of your game is key. Studying the science of your craft and strengthening it daily, surrounding yourself with real and genuine souls (mentor amongst those people), people who know your vision and get it and will keep you in check and make sure you’re aligned with that vision. Those are the things that are important to me and have helped me thus far. As long as I’m doing my part, I’m always positive that God will bring big opportunities and divine connections that I need for every level of my career.
Also, being a woman and having danced and worked with mostly male artists I learnt very quickly to respect myself at all times and stand my ground from the get go. People especially men in the industry have had no choice but to respect me. This has also benefitted me in maintaining my professionalism and relationships with respect in the industry.
Word of advice particularly for younger women who’re looking to enter this industry.