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A DIVE INTO THE NIGERIAN DANCE WORLD
Dance in Nigeria is a vast industry breeding with lots of talent who have learnt home and abroad. Sometimes, you even wonder if we’re not too much in this field, but in dissecting the who-is-who in this field of dance in Nigeria, I have come up with three categories of dancers in Nigeria in which every dancer belongs to one according to my perception, observation and experience.
Firstly, before I proceed into my analysis which I know will be faced by a lot of criticism, “what we do best to others and not to ourselves”, I’d like to note that the title ‘ṢÁ TIRÉ’ is not the English with the literary meaning of making fun of or ridicule someone or something but a Yoruba clause that means ‘pick yours’. This article is for us to assess ourselves, pick the aspect that concerns each of us, work on it and get better.
Furthermore, there’s something shared in common in the field of dance in Nigeria irrespective of the existing sectors. As far as I know, everyone is for himself, everyone wants to be this and that at the expense of others and at whatever cost. There are many times you hear of collective dreams and aspirations, even if they are thought about by some very few well-meaning top class professionals we have, but individualistic differences, priorities and perceptions will still shatter these collective dreams at the long run.
I would not mention names so I don’t shoot myself in the leg, I will further explain my points and keep everything in the best anonymous form as possible. I’d proceed with the three categories of Dancers in Nigeria or Choreographers in our dance industry which are as follows:
A. THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS (CEOs)
B. THE STRUCTURAL DANCERS
C. THE FREELANCERS.
THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
They are the most experienced ones you can find with lots of things attached to their curriculum vitae (CV). They can also be called the cabal or the movers and shakers, the bosses or the ‘ogas at the top’. A critical look at them from my perspective shows that they form a major part of our industrial problems with very few exceptions of those who want to make it right, but to do that, lots of toes have to be stepped on.
They have different agendas in dance business, performances, fitness, entertainment and developmental services and most times just tolerate or rub off on each other because of belonging to the same class ‘up there’. As leaders, they are no role models even to their staff, cast or crew members as some owe their workers or labourers either in the structural dancers’ or freelancers’ category.
They are only about themselves alone and never build successors but people they will keep feeding ‘peanuts’ and dictate to. The most tragic part is that even if they are worse than the devil himself; they’ve got the connection and finance that is needed by category B and C, so they have been bosses and will still be bosses for a long time to come.
However, there are few good ones I have seen, known or heard about who are selfless, worthy and eligible mentors and teachers of value, worth, character and still build successors to carry on after them, but not very many are in this type of category A breed.
Albeit, everyone will tell him or herself while reading this that “I think I’m in the good part of this category” mind you, it takes your works and achievements and mentees to certify that. To rate that, let’s ask about 10 or 20 people who have worked with you and see the probability of you having good scores, all cannot be biased and insincere.
THE STRUCTURAL DANCERS
These are mostly under the category A class and they are also well trained and equipped with information and most times graduate to category A, they bottle a lot of things inside but are quite true and loyal to the profession because there are very few set out dance structures that pay bills and reasonable salaries.
Categories B also have hereditary problems from category A apart from their own individual differences, greed, and rigidity often portrayed amongst them. They are close relatives to category C (to be explained below) but they are more formal in their day to day activities than category C.
This category is also breeding with plenty top class talents and numerous mediocre who are not even worth being called dancers, but in our world of art, they say they are dancers.
Breaking down this last category is quite difficult due to the complexity of talents it has. It could be wrong to say that those in this category are less experienced because some of them know better than those in category A and B, but they are not learned or exposed enough to the opportunities taken or structures set by category A and B. while some are actually inexperienced or a total zero.
This category causes a lot of problems to the world of dance in Nigeria because they sometimes under value their craft which in turn affects the general structure of the dance industry, an industry working really hard to convince its environs and society of its relevance and importance as not just a form of aesthetic appendage but as a core of everyday life in growth, social and developmental relevance.
Category C is the least on the ladder as they are mostly innocent and sometimes inexperienced but will give their best to be clapped for or to be paid meager amounts or just to be seen or noticed, an attribute which really annoys category A and B. If you think they charge less or perform low quality than you will do, it means you are in category A and B or you know better, but to them “the show must go on” and they dream to hit it big someday.
SOLUTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
As much as I have been able to map out these three categories with some of their features, merits and demerits, a lot need to be done to save this ‘dance ship’ from hovering around a functional, structural, political and aesthetic Bermuda triangle. Urgent and responsible steps need to be taken and not just talked about without any change.
To solve these problems, GUILD OF NIGERIAN DANCERS, NIGERIAN DANCE FORUM, Category A, B and C have a part to play in this “Solution Dance Libretto”. Some category A members need to change their ways and attitudes, to be more collective driven instead of a selfish, greedy and capitalist approach. They need to perform what is called class suicide and embrace a more Marxist theory that increases their productivity without changing their prestigious positions as ‘BOSS’.
Category B will learn from this new turnaround from their category A bosses and be able to emulate them and also share with their category C friends or colleagues.
Category C will become depopulated and decongested because they are now being embraced, tutored and mentored and even called for jobs by category A and B and with time a more structural development will begin to spring forth.
With these points raised I hope it will meet my readers well to know that it is for the sake of growth and development and not to attack or mock anyone as I am also a part of this mess and I also need to do my part and correct my past and present flaws and avert the future errors on my part.
One of Yours,