Professional Dancers: Gaining Acceptability, Making Waves

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Dancing, as a profession in Nigeria like music, is becoming lucrative. The practitioners in years past were the butt of jokes in the society, looked down upon as never-do-wells. But with the rising acceptability and recognition of talent in areas that range from football to music, drama, comedy and fine/graphic arts, dancers have now become people even corporate bodies associate with.  In this report SAMUEL ABULUDE writes on the increasing demand for dancers in the entertainment industry

A joyful heart promoteth healing; but a broken spirit drieth up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22.

This simply put means when one puts up a joyful disposition, it has an effect on the body. When one is happy, he or she sings or dances. The art of dancing as an activity is as old as human history itself.

Dance as an art, is the bridge to all of the creative industry. Dancers are always in demand in the music industry. Choreography, an organised form of dancing to a set theme, is a staple at youth centric events and often used to spice up occasions. In the field of Theatre or Creative Arts, dance is a necessary course to undergo.

In the contemporary world, the breath-taking dance moves of the late Pop star, Michael Jackson, inspired youths to try out break-dancing and other forms of high energy dance. Since Michael wowed millions of fans, pop culture has been associated with dance and any musician that knows his onions would know to add dance/choreography to his or her showmanship. Nigeria for instance, in the last decade has experienced a renaissance of all forms of dance, eagerly learned by teenagers, young adults and even children. Reality shows that revolve around dance have employed this to attract the younger generation and adults that are young at heart. Maltina Dance All, in embracing the family value of togetherness, has been a platform for training families in different forms of dance. Dance 234 is also another dance show with a lot of buzz. Young Nigerians have learnt international dance styles like ballet, cha-cha-cha, salsa, tango, tap-dancing and modern styles of dancing prevalent in the hiphop world. Nigeria as a nation of diverse cultures has had different dance styles from different tribes showcased. In recent times, hip hop star Iyanya Imbuk made use of his native dance style-Etighi to convey his hit song, Kukere, wowing and winning over fans. Telecommunication firms, in promoting a new product, use dancers to attract the attention of customers and passers-by. School dropouts and unemployed folks have been contracted to display their abundant talent through dance, getting paid in the process.

Dance As Health Therapy

Since dance is an expression of the body, everybody can dance. Dance has been regarded as a major health therapy. Dancing can calm nerves when one is nervous. Kaffy, professional dancer and fitness instructor says dance does a lot of good to the body and no harm. She was in the United States recently to teach on the importance of dance as a health therapy. “I have just come from the States to meet with bodies and talk to people on the health benefits of dancing. There is an aspect of dance that takes care of your health in ways that you won’t dare to imagine. Working out daily for women as well as dancing in the comfort of their homes will do a lot for their bodies. Women in this part of the world can be sedentary and preoccupied with their families that they forget to take care of their bodies and figure,” says the mother of two.

Professional Dancers/Groups of Repute

Theatre Troupe Of Nigeria has been at the vanguard of all forms of creative arts. Apart from showcasing our dear nation in stage dramas and theatre productions, the group for more than four decades has also popularised our diverse cultural dances to the world. The group, through the ministry of Arts and Culture, has its home at the National Theatre in Orile-Iganmu, Lagos State. This has helped in creating jobs for the teeming youths who are passionate about dance and have been tagged deviants by parents and the society.

Gond- Dance Guild Of Nigeria founded in 1996 and chartered in 1997, was aimed at standardising the dance profession in Nigeria. Buoyed by the vision to see dancers stand shoulder to shoulder with other disciplines or professions, the guild under National Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) in the last 15 years has strived to make impact and make the profession lucrative. GOND celebrates April 29 yearly as World Dance Day and Festival Of Dance every last week of November.

Ijodee is a prolific dancer and a former executive of GOND. Ijodee has been in the industry for decades. The well-built dancer, whose birth name is Adedayo Liadi, honed his dancing skills in France at an art and dance higher institution. He made Olori Oko, a hit song by INFINITY, popular with his electrifying dancing, clinching the song several awards.

Segun Adefila, founder of Crown Troupe of Africa is a man that has helped in showcasing the value for dance. The dreadlocked actor cum dancer has made traditional dance popular. His unique style has taken him miles ahead of some of his peers. His group shone at Helen Paul’s valentine show making use of traditional drums, aptly showing that there is a depth in the arts as regards music and dance that the younger generation ought to consider.

Kaffy, regarded as the 1st lady of dance rode on the fame of leading a group of dancers to win a place in the Guinness Book of Records in 2006. The energetic lady is passionate about dance and has weathered storms to set up a dance company, IMAGNETO that is positioned to make people embrace fitness as a lifestyle through dance.

Challenges Professional Dancers Face

Like other specialties in the entertainment world, dancers are still not given the utmost respect they deserve. Dance production companies conceptualise an idea and bring flesh to it, burn energy rehearsing, but in the end are paid peanuts for their efforts. In the 21st century, dancers deserve as much as musicians contracted to thrill audiences in shows. Kaffy, who is positioning her fitness and dance company, Imagneto to become a bigger brand, says that the challenges of professional dancers are still there but unlike in the 90s, dancers are more recognised. “I used to pay five hundred naira to dancers to perform for me but now I pay as much as twenty thousand naira to dancers. It is going to get better. We need to put structures to the profession and earn the confidence of more corporate bodies,” she summed up on the plight of professional dancers.

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Source: Leadership, http://leadership.ng/entertainment/382523/professional-dancers-gaining-acceptability-making-waves

 

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