Leroy Mokgatle winning a gold medal in an international ballet competition was no surprise, the teenager’s grandmother said on Monday.

“We expected it to happen, that boy used to like dancing from age 5,” Tryphina Mokgatle said of the 15-year-old.

“Woooo hooo. We are hugging that boy. It’s wonderful, amazing,” she said, when asked what she would do when she saw him again.

Mokgatle won the finals of Genee International Ballet Competition, held in London, on Saturday. The competition was named after the Royal Academy of Dance’s first president, Dame Adeline Genee. He also won the Margot Fonteyn Audience Award.

Held at London’s Sadler’s Well Theatre, the contest was streamed worldwide for the first time in its history.
The Royal Academy of Dance’s Genee competition is named after its first president, RAD’s first president, Dame Adeline Genee.

Dancers from 16 countries took part in this year’s competition, which was held over three days leading up to the final.

For the first time, nine entrants were given financial assistance to take part, through the Darcey Bussell Genee Bursary, aimed at assisting those who otherwise could not afford to attend.


Tryphina Mokgatle raised him after his mother, a nurse, died in 2007. She was a single mother.

Mokgatle said dancing and singing ran in the family, but unlike Leroy, none of them were professional. Leroy’s mother was good at jiving.

When other boys at school chose rugby and soccer as extra murals, he picked ballet and Latin American dancing. At the time his mother was still alive, and it was a choice he discussed with her, Mokgatle said.

“He’s got no bad habits. He was brought up by people who didn’t like any nonsense at home. You had to obey the rules.”

She described him as a confident, respectful, sweet boy, who was never in the streets. He was well-built, neither short nor fat, with a “nice structure”.

The Mokgatles were from the Bafokeng tribe, from Phokeng, near Rustenburg, and social media networks in that part of the country were buzzing with the news of his victory.

“They phoned each other all over, the villages of Rustenburg, the friends, aunties, uncles, yoh, the Facebook is very, very busy,” she said.

Mokgatle began studying at the Art of Motion school in Randburg, Johannesburg, in 2013. According to the school’s website his achievements include winning the Junior Contemporary Gold Medal and the Junior Classical Medal at the South African International Ballet Competition in Cape Town in 2014.

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