Getting to know MTM’s Queen of Dance Kayla van Tonder

Musical Theatre Masterclass speaks with Choreographer and Assistant Director Kayla van Tonder about her passion for dance, her relationship with students and how she hopes to inspire the next generation.

Kayla van Tonder brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Musical Theatre Masterclass as a highly qualified professional, who has performed on various high-profile stages.

Kayla studied at The Waterfront Theatre School majoring in Dance and Musical Theatre.

She is qualified in dance and all-round performance, having obtained her ISTD London in Ballet, Modern, Jazz and Tap dance as well as Drama and Musical Theatre.

And in terms of experience, Kayla has an impressive résumé.

Throughout her years of training, she has performed in numerous dance shows such as “Hit me with a Hot Note” and “Broadway or Bust”.

In 2017, upon graduating Kayla has originated and portrayed the role of ‘Christa’ in Season 1 of the KYKnet drama series “danZ”. She has also danced and choreographed for well-known South African artists such as Kurt Darren and Juanita Du Plessis.

Musical Theatre Masterclass chats to Kayla about her passion for dance, relationship with students and more!

What inspired you to get into dance?

“My uncle inspired me to get into dance. He is a dancer and took me to my first ballet class when I was little. I fell in love with it. Dance has been a part of my life ever since.”

What inspired you to join the Musical Theatre Masterlcass family as Choreographer and Assistant Director?

“[Musical Theatre Masterclass Founder] Dane Marais and I met a few years ago through a mutual friend. We connected through our love for acting and theatre. He played a big part in me pursuing the performing arts as a career – always encouraging me and helping me prepare for auditions. He always speaks so passionately about the arts and sharing that passion with the next generation. I want to be apart of that as I too have a passion for working with young people.”

How’s life been at the Musical Theatre Masterclass?

“The experience at MTM has been great thus far. The students are so welcoming and really love attending their classes at MTM. Their love for performing makes the classes easy to teach and enjoyable.”

Describe the relationship you have with your students.

“I have a good relationship with everyone in my class. What makes the classes exciting is that each of them are at different levels. Some more experienced than others but so supportive of one another. In my classes, I have dancers who are working hard to strengthen their acting skills as well as actors and singers who are working hard to improve their dancing skills.”

What’s the philosophy behind your teaching?

“I try to create an environment where my students can feel accepted and comfortable to try new things without being judged.”

For the students who don’t feel that they excel in dance, how do you assist them with improving their art?

“Firstly, I let them know that they CAN do it! Secondly, we break the dance movements down into it’s simplest form and then build on that. We focus on dance vocabulary and I teach them dance routines to help them pick up choreography.”

Musical Theatre Masterclass is focused on growing and welcoming more kids. Are you excited?

“I look forward to the growth of MTM. It’s a studio that really cares about it’s young performers… a studio that wants to ensure that the students have a good future in this industry. I am excited to help my dance and drama students improve and reach their full potential.”

– Dance and Musical Theatre classes run on Wednesday at the Old Mill Theatre.

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