Ruben’s journey leading to ‘Danz’

Ruben Engelis captured on set.

CBD resident Ruben Engel plays the lead role in a television drama series called Danz, which is set in Woodstock.

The series follows the life of Mr Engel’s character, Zane Hendricks, and a few of his students at the dance studio he owns.

Ruben grew up in Crawford, Lansdowne, and Vanguard Estate.

He also lived in Upington when he was young as his father received a contract to work there.

“This was a big eye opener for me as I was in a foreign environment. It made me open my mind to another, new light.”

Then in 1994, when apartheid ended, Ruben came back to Cape Town and was able to attend the German School in Tamboerskloof.

“This was my first experience with the city centre. This opportunity opened my world to the CBD and to the European culture.

“I was exposed to different headspaces and different beliefs, coming from a background of a conservative family.”

But the seed for his love of the arts was planted while he was a pupil at Battswood College in Grassy Park, Mr Engel said.

He got involved in the Phakama Project, which is a cross cultural theatre exchange project between London and Cape Town.

“In my gap year, my aunt also referred me to a directing competition, which I won, and I went on to direct and produce a number of shows, including a whole talk show season for Cape Town TV, directed by Solly Philander.”

But his success didn’t end on the screen, and Mr Engel was also crowned runner-up at the Mr South Africa 2009 pageant.

As a pastor’s child, Mr Engel said his spirituality and creativity has always been a part of him.

“I am fortunate that I come from a strong family history. We still have a family home in Elim since 1906.

“It was a horse stable which was converted into a home.

“That allowed me to explore the arts. As I settle into my own skin, I realise more and more that my art is reflecting my life.

“Last year I spent the whole year with confirmation students, and here I play a character who serves as a father figure to his students.

“The show allowed for creativity to flow, and to release anger, fear, and frustration. Urban environments attack our children.There are so many distracting factors influencing our children.

“The show deals with real issues, like gangsterism, drugs, single parents, the rich and cold environments. We explore what we imagine it to be on the other side of the train tracks and find it is not how we imagined it.”

Ruben has lived in the CBD for about 10 years. “I moved here because it is an environment which stimulates creativity.

“Since I moved here, I was able to sell my car because the infrastructure allows that type of free living.

“MyCiTi is probably the thing I love most about the CBD. When I lived in Lansdowne, the travelling to and from the city centre was tiring for me. It’s so much easier now.”

He said the CBD is also the “plug” into an international community that you will not get in another part of Cape Town.

“I love the beauty and architecture of the city centre. I walk around often, because it’s like you are in a live museum – it is so rich in history.

“It’s also beautiful to watch the urban development, and to feel like we are a living part of it.”

He said one of the things that could be improved on in the city centre is the walking and cycling space.

The Kyknet&Kie series, Danz, produced by Gambit Films, is a 13-part drama, and airs every Thursday at 8pm, on DStv channel 145.