Up close with Khabonina Qubeka

khabonina at one of her "Book club with Khabonina" sessions, where she reads to the children.

The FNB VITA award winning dancer, choreographer, dance teacher, actress, motivational speaker, musician and presenter has been in the entertainment industry since she was young and is no stranger to many South Africans.

Khabonina Qubeka sat down with the NEWS’/EXPRESS’ journalist, Buli Sonqishe, to talk about her journey as an all-round artist from her childhood years in Soweto to the star she is today.

Kabonina, a Bedfordview resident, started dancing at the age of six in Newtown, in a modern dance class.

Her mother is an opera singer and a voice coach. When Khabonina was young, her mother would go to her classes with her.

Dancing became a part of her life as she danced throughout her schooling days, receiving awards, trophies and colours for dancing.

She continued the musical theatre journey through high school where she won the Best Actress Award in the play ‘FAME’, where she sang and acted.

After high school, she studied dance as a whole, where she learnt all about African Dance, Ballet, Afrofusion, Jazz, Creative movement, Choreography, Business Management, Methods of Teaching, Music Theory, Anatomy and Physiology, History of Dance, child psychology and much more.

“I grew up in Orlando West Ext, Soweto, and I always loved entertainment and the art industry as a whole,” said Khabonina.

With leading roles in big shows such as Muvhango, The Lab, The Wild, The Table, Rhythm City, Mthunzini dot com, For Sale, this SAFTA and Naledi Award nominated actress went on to perform in theatre productions for many years before she made a name for herself in the television soapie Muvhango a few years ago, when she played the controversial role of the much ‘hated’ Doobsie.

“I have a mother who is very passionate about the arts and she has always been very supportive of my craft. I believe parents should support their children but the most important thing is that as a child you need to work at making your parents understand your craft. Convince them that this is not just entertainment, but is like any other career. Your parents will take it seriously if they see you take it seriously,” she said.

Earlier this year, Khabonina joined the award winning soapie Isidingo as the daughter of the most feared gangster in Horizon Deep.

Her character, Nina Zamdela, is a strong, powerful, no-nonsense woman, who is fast on her way to becoming the Queen of the underworld. Asked about what characters she loves playing, Khabonina was quick to point out that she loves playing dark and dangerous characters.

In the soapie, she took her father’s place as the most feared gangster in the land. She is as ruthless, and immoral as her father. She is groomed by Georgie to take over the running of his business since he decided to seek retirement away from the Deep.

Besides her television career, Khabonina is also involved in many community outreach programmes.

Edu-Dance is one of the outreach programmes she ran in township schools, where she motivated youngsters through dance and creative movement. Her most recent children’s project, “Book club with Khabonina” is still a success.

She motivates the youngsters of two schools in Pimville, Soweto, and a refugee school in the Johannesburg CBD, the Albert Street School, to read.

“I realised that children nowadays don’t read because they enjoy it, they read because their teachers or parents tell them to. I want to change that. Through reading, the children are stimulated and their minds are broadened because reading inspires you and takes you places,” said Khabonina.

“With the book club, I wanted children to be inspired more because children are reserved and they cannot express themselves. That is why you find children being abused, but they don’t tell anyone about it because they cannot express themselves,” she said.

“I want to see more children, not only reading books, but being able to turn the books into plays and writing their own books because I think children would enjoy reading books that are written by their own peers,” she said.

Khabonina also runs different community projects, like the “Dance to Fitness” in different locations in and around Johannesburg.

She started these outreach programmes in 2000 when she was studying “Methods of Teaching at Moving Into Dance”, and has never stopped.

She said the reason she started the Dance to Fitness project was because many people want to be fit but they don’t like going to gym and sometime they simply don’t have the time.

“I realised that going to gym is not possible for a lot of people because we lead such busy lives and people just don’t have the time. The DVDs are helpful because people can do the exercises at home, using the things you already have in your home,” she said.

As if her role on Isidingo is not demanding enough, Khabonina is in pre-production for her next fitness DVD, which will be out next year.

She also plays a leading role in a movie that comes out early next year. In the movie, which is titled Dora’s Peace, her character Dora, is a Hillbrow prostitute who shields a gifted young boy from the violent clutches of organised crime. In the process she may discover aspects of her own lost humanity.

With so many things on her plate, it is clear that South Africa has not seen anything yet from this talented woman.

  AUTHOR
Buli Sonqishe

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