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Dancing all the way

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We have all danced during weddings, traditional ceremonies, concerts, church or home to express joy.

This is one of the God given talents only that some are better dancers.

In the absence of proper dancing schools in the country, many dancers use their God given talents.

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This is where we have missed an opportunity as a country to give a platform to the art of dancing to grow.

The country is blessed with talent no doubt about that but this talent is all in-born and needs to be sharpened.

This is where schools come in, to sharpen this talent so that it shines brighter and stands out.

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For those who have watched competitions such as So You Think You Can Dance, they will attest that dancing is a serious career worth pursuing but this can only happen if there is seriousness on the ground.

Although the landscape has changed now where dance is slowly gaining the platform in the country, it is still not taken seriously.

Veteran female dancer Jane Khongwa popularly known as Anije and stars with Zembani Band has been in the art of dancing for years but it has not been easy to be where she is now.

She said her dancing is in-born and that she never went to school to learn the art.

“I wish there was that chance to go to a dancing school and sharpen my skills further. But I am always thankful to God for this talent. It is this talent which has helped me generate my income and sustain my home,” Khongwa said.

She said she was happy that there are competitions now that are giving a chance to dancers to come out and show their talents.

“Some people even today take dancing as something which is for those people who have nothing to do and yet this is an art which we all have. It is even difficult for women, who are labeled as ‘prostitutes’ and for me I have had to close my ears,” she said.

Another dancer Atoti Too Short real name Sam Mphande, who solely depends on dancing for his bread and butter, said it was high time the country embraced dancing.

“It’s now time to lift dancing and it has shown on the ground that we have many young men and women who are talented. All what we need are the right platforms to show this talent but also we need schools for us to make our dances tight enough,” he said.

According to available information, dance is a performance art form consisting of purposefully selected sequences of human movement.

This movement has aesthetic and symbolic value, and is acknowledged as dance by performers and observers within a particular culture.

Actually, dance is categorised and described by its choreography, its repertoire of movements, or by its historical period or place of origin.

The country has no dance schools but there are dance studies which are offered through arts and humanities programmes.

According to Wikipedia, a dance study curriculum may encompass a diverse range of courses and topics, including dance practice and performance, choreography, ethno choreology, kinesiology, dance notation, and dance therapy.

Times Group through Times Television saw the missing link in the art of dancing, that it was a minor art which has been ignored for a longtime that creating the Ka Jive Dance competition running under the slogan Tivine Zimenezi.

The competition now in Season III returns on November 26 at the Great Hall in Zomba seeking to give a platform once again to dancers to show their talents.

Having successfully held Season I and II which saw Blantyre-based groups Metics Street Dance and Twist triumphing pocketing K1 million and K1.5 million respectively, Times Group believes there is more talent out there which needs this platform to shine.

“This is a minor art which has been ignored for a longtime and we are there to breathe in life to this art. We are looking at the years to come where the country should be able to export dancers,” said Times Group Chief Commercial Manager Dumisani Ngulube.

He said since they started the competition, they have seen a tremendous growth of the art of dancing and that it has improved big time.

“Today we have seen better music videos with choreography involved and dancers are now being invited to corporate functions and to us that is an improvement. This was not the case in the past years,” Ngulube said.

He said to show their seriousness in uplifting the art of dancing in the country; they have opened up to four major cities now namely Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba.

“In Season I it was all about Blantyre and this all happened because we were on a testing phase but in Season II we added Lilongwe and now we have gone national. All we are saying is let dancers come out and compete,” he said.

The return of Season III has even been boosted by the coming in of Airtel Malawi which has pumped in K6million sponsorship.

The mobile company was also part and parcel of the competition in Season I where it pumped in K4 million.

“Airtel Malawi is firmly dedicated to empowering the youth in the country and it is with great pleasure that our K6million sponsorship for Ka Jive Season III registers yet another testament to our commitment to celebrating, developing and empowering Malawian talent,” said Airtel Malawi Marketing Director Emmanuel Kasambala.

He said as a youthful brand they want to get people to achieve and realise their potential.

“Art can manifest in many ways and one of the ways is through dance. This is why we are excited to be part of the Ka Jive and Malawi has talent,” Kasambala said.

Ngulube said they would want through Ka Jive to change the way the country perceives dancing and that it should be taken as a career.

“There are so many groups which are doing well now and all we are saying is that we want to unearth and make great dancers,” he said.

In visual arts – there are great artists who have come out and they include Pablo Picasso, who many of the artists look up to because of his great works.

Picasso is a big name to visual arts.

And in dance there are also big names which include Martha Graham, an American dancer and choreographer whose influence on dance has actually been compared with the influence of Picasso on visual arts, Stravinsky on music, and Frank Lloyd Wright on architecture.

Graham has inspired many dancers and her style which she called the Graham technique, fundamentally reshaped American dance and is still taught worldwide.

Information has it that the female dancer, danced and choreographed for over 70 years.

She is said to be the first dancer to perform at the White House and that she travelled abroad as a cultural ambassador and received the highest civilian award of the US – the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In her lifetime she also received honours ranging from the Key to the City of Paris to Japan’s Imperial Order of the Precious Crown.

So dance is a career and one can make a living through dancing.

In the 1994 documentary The Dancer Revealed, Graham said:

“I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer. It’s permitting life to use you in a very intense way. Sometimes it is not pleasant. Sometimes it is fearful. But nevertheless it is inevitable.”

And in one of her quotes, Graham said it all just to inspire dancers that:

“Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion.”

And so as Ngulube said, “it’s time to make the art of dancing great and that Ka Jive Dance contest was born out of passion.”

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