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The Art of Dancing

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They are aged between eight and sixteen and their ambition is to be professional dancers. Their parents are hundred per cent in support of their ambition. Indeed their parents personally enrolled them at the Compass ProDance Incubator studio, located at Angola Road, Kaduna.

The outfit specialises in grooming and training professional dancers. It is the only dance training studio in Kaduna and probably also the only such place in the entire north.

Really, it was thrilling watching the children dance  during the training session when THISDAY visited the studio recently.
Clad in tees and shorts and jeans trousers, they grooved to the lively soundtrack, making prompt movements in synchrony, holding spectators spellbound with their energetic and enthralling performance.

They are taught about the art of dancing, the way to move and adjust their bodies to different types of music and communicate through dancing.

Some of the children who spoke with THISDAY were so passionate about their desire to become great professional dancers when they grow up.

An 8-year-old Steven Makinde and his elder brother, Samson Makinde 15, were among those who spoke excitedly about their dreams of becoming professional dancers when they grow up.

“I love dancing because I dance for people. I want to be able to dance very well when I grow up. My mum wants me to learn how to dance and she brought me here,” Steven said.

His elder brother, Samson however said although, his ambition is to become a doctor, he loves dancing so much and equally wants to be a professional dancer.

“Dancing makes me feel good when am down. Any time my mum sees me dancing, she is happy. I want to be a doctor and a professional dancer at the same time” he added.

Also 13-year-old Esther Charity John said dancing makes her happy so she wants to make a career from dancing.
“My dream is to be a professional dancer when I grow up. I want to train other people to dance when I grow up to become something in their lives,” she said.

Esther opined that it is it is better to learn a skill that will make one useful to to the society instead of wasting time looking for white collar jobs that is so hard to get.

Also speaking, Tracy Emmanuel, 16, said she started dancing when she was a little girl and her parents encouraged her.
“I enjoy dancing. I started dancing when I was very little and I want to use my dance skill for good purpose. I want to use my dancing talent to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ,” she said.

Funsho Olokesusi, a graduate of Mass Communication from the Kaduna Polytechnic is the founder of the Compass ProDance Incubator.

He disclosed that his dancing career started in 2004 and that he eventually specialised in coaching and teaching. For Olokesusi, the philosophy behind Compass ProDance Incubator is to incubate young talents and make them professionals.

“Basically I used my experience when I was growing up as a child. I was hyper active when I was a child and I like to dance. I didn’t know how to channel that energy, so I got involved in so many things. Unlike what is obtainable abroad, there was no one to train me so I was training myself up to the time I went to school.

“I am a professional Dance Judge, certified by Chair Nigeria, a governing body for Chair Leading in Nigeria.  I am also a Certified International Dance Judge having attended several training programmes.
“So I decided to create the opportunity that I didn’t have in learning how to dance for the younger ones so that they could learn to dance,” he explained.

According to him, besides entertainment, there are a lot of benefits in dancing as it keeps one actively alive since it is a form of exercise.
“Dancing can increase your psyche and boost your intelligent quotient (IQ). If you look at the way we arrange ourselves in sequence and the steps we take while dancing, it is like mathematics, it is synchronised.

“It is a highly physical activity and kids who take dance lessons regularly should expect to see a significant improvement in their overall physical health. Regular dance practice can increase your child's flexibility, range of motion, physical strength and stamina.

“The repetitive movements involved in dance can improve muscle tone, correct poor posture, increase balance and coordination and improve overall cardiovascular health. Dancing is an aerobic form of exercise. For children who are overweight, it can potentially help them to lose weight and improve their eating habits,” he enthused.

He noted that parents are beginning to see the need to allow their children to explore their talents by encouraging them to develop their skills in other areas including dancing.

According to him, the children were brought to the centre by their parents to encourage them to be professional dancers. “Their parents have seen their potentials and have taken the bold step to put them in good hands so that they can be trained to become good dancers,” he said.

He linked dancing with academic performance, saying “dance lessons according to research can help to spark creativity in young children and help them to develop an appreciation for the arts. Students who regularly participate in dance lessons typically tend to perform better academically than their non-participating peers. They tend to do better in math and science competitions.”

“The problem with the Nigerian educational system is that it has not infused dance into the curricula. Dance is more like an extra curricula activity and that is why our studio is a choice place for people who want to learn to dance.”

“The children come during weekends when they are not in school and when they are on holidays. We have our own platform that helps to expose them. We organise our own competitions call School Bounds. It is a competition for secondary schools.  It is a Hip Hop dance and we also have another competition for those in primary school called Kids Move.”

Besides training children, Olokesusi said a lot of people going for dancing competitions do visit the studio to be trained and to be guided.

“We do consulting for people. Some of the people you see on Maltina dance competition come to our studio for training and to learn the ethics of dance.

“I am an experience professional and I know what it takes for someone to win a competition, I have been consulting for people going for competitions and they win,” he said.

He explained that dance training is a very expensive and tasking venture that requires a lot of money, stressing that it is difficult to afford the training except through sponsorship, because most of the dance courses are more like learning other cultures.

“For instance if I want to learn Bajju dance, I must understand the people and their culture and that is why dance is one of the condiments of culture. If I am learning a foreign dance, I have to go there, live with them and understand their passion. Dancing is not something you can do without being particularly inclined to that region.

“The dance you saw the children perform is a mix of cultures. We call it Naija Flavour. We realised that Nigeria is multi-ethnic in nature. You cannot teach every ethnic dance, so we decided to pick some major characteristics of some ethnic dances and put them together and call it Naija Flavour.”

He explained further that one of the things that make dance professional is when there is a laid down principle attached to it.
“The reason why we are doing this is because if I find myself abroad one day, I will not make it if I try to dance like a white man. So we are trying to make it more professional so that by the time these young ones grow up to our age, they can market this dance and generate some form of revenue for Nigeria.

“From my latest research, I realised that until we start seeing dance as something that you brand and package for people to enjoy, it will not be appreciated. Before now dancing used to be a form of entertainment, but now dancing could be used for other things apart from entertainment.

He described dance as an essential remedy to the human mind as it can improve emotional stability and psychological problems among others. 

“People come to the studio and dance and they are relieved.  Dance can also be used for fitness, instead of going to the gym. There is something we introduced that is called Dance for Everybody (DaFo), where people come, no matter your age”.
True, dancing in Nigeria is no longer a pastime thing, it is fast becoming a profession with which people now earn a living just the same way the boom in the Nollywood industry started years ago.

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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Tags:     Professional Dancers     Angola Road     Kaduna