Woodstock takes centre stage in series

Ruben Engel is captured on set, playing the role of fictional character, Zain Hendricks, who owns a dance school.

A Woodstock-baseddrama series starring Garden’s resident Ruben Engel recently aired on Kyknet and caused a stir when it touched on issues of gentrification currently being experienced in Woodstock area.

The drama series called Danz, sees Mr Engel playing the role of a dance studio owner Zain Hendricks and the studio becomes a haven for young people from a disadvantaged area to express themselves through dance.

On the episode which aired on Thursday November 16, the owner of the dance school played by Mr Engel was informed that the school would be closed down for a mall and apartments to be built in its place. He then has to fight to keep the school open.

Many of the issues portrayed in the series reflect the challenges the youth face on a daily basis on the Cape Flats, such as drug abuse.

The series follows the life of, Zain, and a few of his students at the dance studio. Other actors playing alongside him in this series include Euodia Samson, Amy Jephta, and Austin Rose – the last is from Noem my Skollie fame.

Speaking about the filming of the production, Mr Engel said: “Having half of the production shot at the Joseph Stone – that building in itself became the main character. We saw the life that was there – dancers in their tutus, and a cappella groups rehearsing.

“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.”

He added that the most striking moment for him on set was when one of the directors, Travis Taute, gave him creative licence (off the script) to see how he would deal with a drug-addicted teen who was being chased by a gangster.

“He wanted to see how I was going to bring this boy’s character – connected to dark alleys – into people’s homes. How I would invite him in and take full responsibility for someone who is not my child,” Mr Engel said.

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

He grew up in Crawford, Lansdowne, and Vanguard Estate. He was also crowned runner-up at the Mr South Africa 2009 pageant.

As a pastor’s child, Mr Engel said his spirituality and creativity had 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 Kyknet&Kie series, produced by Gambit Films, is a 13-part drama, and airs every Thursday at 8pm, on Channel 145.