Award-winning dancer and Iyasa group member Mbongeni Nxumalo says dancing is a gift-given lifestyle which he adopted. While critics say dancing is typically not a high-paying profession unless you reach the elite levels and one gets low pay, but Nxumalo differs with that saying “stomping the yard” pays and it has taken him places.
Standard Style reporter Sharon Sibindi (SS) caught up with Nxumalo (MN), who is also inspired by Beyonce’s choreographer Chris Grant.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
SS: Can you tell me about yourself? How did it start for you in the arts industry?
MN: My name is Mbongeni Nxumalo and I am a male artiste aged 25 years. I started arts at a tender age from primary school through to secondary school being part of theatre groups and simultaneously being part of some upcoming dance groups in Bulawayo. I joined Iyasa [Inkululeko Yabatsha School of Arts] after my O’ Level and from there, the journey started.
SS: Being one of the best dancers in Bulawayo, who are the other dancers whom you see as your inspirations?
MN: Actually, I am inspired by a story teller and creative person in dance that cannot be just an entertainer, but anyone who knows how to carry out dance effectively. My inspiration is Beyonce’s choreographer Chris Grant. He is my inspiration because of his professionalism and the creativity he carries throughout in dance.
SS: Why dance and what do you call your type of dance?
MN: Dance has been a gift-given part of my lifestyle that I adopted. I would like to think it’s natural to me. My type of dance is versatile that features all genres of dance, but I specialise in Afro-fusion and contemporary dance mostly. Of course, dance pays a lot and I have earned a living out of it by making it my lifetime employment.
SS: Looking at this Covid pandemic, artistes have been affected, including yourself. Do you have plan B for such a scenario?
MN: Absolutely yes! Immediately when the pandemic came, I used that opportunity to rebrand and refocus, thus I decided to go solo as a freelance dancer. For future purposes, I thought of doing things on my own and see how it goes. I am using social media to reach out to my audience and it’s a major boost to my career. The future is bright and it comes out the way I want it to be.
SS: What are your future plans in the event that the Covid-19 pandemic is gone? Do you have ambitions of going to a dance school?
MN: My plans after Covid-19 are to practically take my career to another level and make my projects I built in this lockdown be taken into experiments and see how it goes and how people are going to relate to it personally. Yes, I am ambitious to do well in theory of arts, but practically I think I am okay and I inspire many through dance .
SS: You are part of the globetrotting group, Iyasa. Tell us when did you join the group and what is it that have you learnt during your engagement with them?
MN: I joined Iyasa in 2013 after I had completed O’ Level and that was when my journey started with the group. I have learnt a lot from Iyasa which has given my career a reputable track record and how to carry out myself as an artiste — discipline, focus, determination, passion, confidence and dedication.
SS: Do you have any solo projects you are working on? If so, can you tell us more about it?
MN: Absolutely yes. I am have opened my own studio that provides the following services: Choreography, dance classes and personal fitness. Being a stylist in fashion, I am part of a group called Soul Dudes which I founded alongside my colleague at Iyasa, Aaron Chikondawanga. We recently won a dance cover challenge in Bulawayo done by Veinsmedia. My family has been supportive and provided material support as well for my craft. As of Iyasa, I have learnt a lot from them and they are supportive as well.
SS: What are your most exciting moments in your career so far?
MN: The most exciting moments in my career include reaching all corners of the world through cultural exchange programmes performing in countries such as Austria, Czech Republic, Swaziland, South Africa and Botswana, just to name a few.
SS: Do you have any advice for young people who want to become dancers like you?
MN: Yes, I do. I want all young people to believe in themselves through their God-given talents and to use them wisely and creatively. I want dance to change our communities, cities and the whole world through story-telling that young people can use to fight all things that are destructive and destroying their lives and choose dance as their profession and inspiration always. So, we can make a better tomorrow in the arts sector.
SS: Your parting shot.
MN: I would just advise our audience to support local content so that we as artistes can get many opportunities and be inspired by our work . Thank you.