Dada Masilo was born and bred in Johannesburg, South Africa, and began formal training at The Dance Factory at the age of 11. She also attended Johannesburg’s National School of the Arts, from which she graduated at 17. After a year as a trainee at Cape Town’s Jazzart Dance Theatre, she was accepted at the Performing Arts Research and Training Studios in Brussels, where she remained for two years.
Returning to South Africa late 2006, she began to create her own work. In 2008, she was awarded the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance. Three commissions from the National Arts Festival resulted in her Romeo and Juliet (2008), Carmen (2009) and Swan Lake (2010).
In 2011, she was invited to present a solo work for the Festival Anticodes at Le Quartz de Brest, France. Entitled The Bitter End of Rosemary it led to a proposal for her to tour her works in Europe. So far, Swan Lake has toured extensively throughout France and Switzerland, and been seen in Stockholm, Dusseldorf, Innsbruck, Hamburg and Luxembourg, as well as in 6 Italian cities, including Rome.
In September 2014 Masilo restaged her Carmen to open the Lyon Biennale. From this came another extensive European tour, including 5 weeks in Paris. In 2015 she toured both Swan Lake and Carmen and since then her works have also been seen in Norway, Greece, Russia and The Netherlands. In North America Masilo has appeared at BAM (New York) and at Yale University with in William Kentridge’s Refuse the Hour. She has also recently staged and performed Swan Lake in Ottawa, Montreal, and 4 cities in the USA, finishing with 6 performances at The Joyce Theater, New York. This was immediately followed by performances at the Perth Festival, again in Kentridge’s Refuse the Hour.
Masilo has a deep love for the classics, whether that be Shakespeare or Tchaikovsky, ballet or flamenco. As a dancer, she has impressed critics with her `signature speed` as well as her ability to imbue her roles with a precocious theatricality. As a choreographer, she has been amazingly daring, tackling the `big stories’ from different angles and boldly fusing dance techniques, while musically mixing original scores with the work of twentieth century composers and performers.