Born in 1986 in Soweto, a Johannesburg township, Dada Masilo trained primarily at the Dance Factory in Newton, the cultural district of Johannesburg, as well as at the National School of Art (Johannesburg) and at the Jazzart Dance Theater, Cape Town. In 2005, she began two years of training at PARTS (Performing Arts Research and Training Studios) with Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker in Brussels, where she discovered, among other things, the works of Trisha Brown and Pina Bausch, and created “The World, My Butt and other big round things”.
Back in South Africa, she created “Love and other four letter words” in 2008, a meditation on the AIDS pandemic, and began her work of reinterpreting traditional ballets (“Romeo and Juliette” in 2008, “Carmen” in 2009), whose codes she adopts and then distorts, by mixing aesthetics with humour. In 2011, she was awarded the Standard Bank Young Award, one of the South-African most famous dance prizes, while the South African daily newspaper The Star recognised her work “The Bitter end of Rosemary” by listing it as one of the hundred greatest successes of the year: in this work she investigates the character of Ophelia, from “Hamlet”, by giving the character's madness great vulnerability. This solo was Masilo's first piece to be performed in France, at the Anticodes Festival in Brest in March and at the Fragile Danse Festival at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in November 2011. Invited to the Lyon Dance Biennial in 2012, she performed “Swan Lake”, which was also widely performed in France in 2013 and 2014.
On the programme at all the festivals in South Africa, in particular the famous Dance Umbrella festival, Dada Masilo's shows also toured Tanzania, Mali, Mexico, Israel, and Europe (Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, France… ) and met with both critical and public acclaim.
She has collaborated with many famous names on the South African arts scene. In 2013, for example, she collaborated on “Refuse the hour” with the visual artist and director William Kentridge, commissioned and danced “In creation” with the choreographer Gregory Maqoma as part of the Sujet à vif in Avignon, and “Deep night” with P. J. Sabbagha and his collective The Forgotten Angle. She also trains young dancers and regularly hosts workshops in the United States.
Since returning late 2006, she has taught for Dance Factory Youth.
In 2012 Masilo undertook a residency at Denison University, Granville, Ohio, where at the Swasey Chapel, she performed a programme of solos from her repertoire.
Source: Dada Masilo