“They say to become a master you need to practice 10000 hours. While this is may be true, to become truly world class you need a unique identity, skill as well as unquenchable persistence” says Michelle Oppenshaw, after returning from the USA as a World Elite Judge at the Hip Hop International world dance championships.

Movement is in her blood and Michelle aims to not only “create a sustainable mentorship programme for dancers in South Africa”, but to also keep representing South Africa internationally by creating and choreographing large scale international award shows and music artist tours. “We have ALL the talent in SA and too often just not the right information, resources or guidance.”

Michelle has done it all, from small intimate choreographed pieces, to complex routines on global platforms with thousands of viewers watching, and everything in between. When she landed, we took the first opportunity to get to know her a little more and understand how she views the industry, having worked both locally and internationally.

Describe yourself as an industry professional in comparison to colleagues around the world.
Something I am both grateful and proud of is my versatility in dance. I did a numerous number of dance genres at the highest level which has allowed me to gain more knowledge and experience than usual. I find I am not 1 dimensional in my creative work, I teach with a diverse and holistic approach, I am able to create more dynamic choreography and I judge and analyse dance with a broad spectrum of information.

What does it take to become a world class dancer?
We are able to choose the world champion by analysing skill as well as performance abilities so a world class dancer must have great technique as well as a captivating and memorable essence. I take into considerstion musicality, technique, difficulty, body control, presence, confidence, understanding of styles, staging, floorcraft as well as creativity.

What is the most rewarding thing about coaching?
I always find fulfillment in seeing others discover their potential and greatness. I love helping others unlock their own power and genius. There is a big difference between teaching and coaching. I aim to add value and often I feel I walk away perhaps more inspired or blessed.

What has been the highlight of your career?
I’ve had so many highlights its quite hard to narrow it down. Choreographing for THE VOICE SA as well as DANCING WITH THE STARS have been two very special moments in my career. In my competitive career my favourite would be winning a locking dancing competition in the UK as it boosted my individuality. Additionally, dancing in the HONEY 3 movie was a moment that inspired a new direction for my career.

Commenting on the Legacy that she’d like to leave behind, Michelle said “I want to add value to the lives of everyone I meet or work with. I want people to KNOW and BELIEVE how powerful, capable and unique they are. Finding value and living it out is the most beautiful and powerful thing. Whether its through dance or just life, I hope to help others see that in themselves.”

It’s important for us all to take a page out of Michelle’s book as pursuing your passion might not always be easy, but the reword of success as well as the ability to develop an industry and those who populate it, is an invaluable contribution.

“You can be a complainer, or you can be an achiever, But you can’t be both.” – Michelle Oppenshaw