Mamela Nyamza started dancing at the age of eight at Zama Dance School in Gugulethu, arriving at her first class in her swimming costume. Although it wasn't the "Brenda Fassie-style of Mamela Headshotdance" she expected, in ballet she found and escape from the street and "enlightenment". Formal training in Pretoria and a scholarship to study at the Alvin Alley Dance School in New York gave her the tools she needed to get to the top - despite there not being many black dancers to show her how.

Doing it her own way, Nyamza has shone in musicals, festivals and theatres around the world. Choreographing, directing and performing her own pieces, she courageously confronts childhood events in the Eighties, tackles cultural traditions and highlights contemporary social ills. As a dance activist in schools through Project Move, she speaks to youth about HIV/Aids, domestic violence and drug abuse through her art. Regardless of where Nyamza performs - in schools, theatres or backyards in Gugulethu - as a self-employed artist and proud mother of her son, she has a lot to say - and a lot more we need to hear.

- Lu Larchejoe