By Tafadzwa Gambiza
The great Albert Einstein said ” Only a life lived for others is worth living”, and we can’t agree any less as no one has ever made it through in life without someone’s help. In case you did not know, we run a Volunteer Program at Jibilika Dance Trust, which has seen quite a number of young people signing up and some are now fully fledged artists and development practitioners. Ida from Germany recently joined us as a volunteer and we thought it would be cool to feature her on SPoTLIGHT! – the following is a conversation between Ida (A) and Tafadzwa (Q), our SPoTLIGHT writer.
Q: Thank you very much for sparing your time to speak to us. For those who might not know you, who is Ida Winter?
A: Thank you for letting me be a part of it! I am a 22 y/o Dancer from Germany. I went to a dance university in Switzerland and visited “Juste Debout School” in Paris. The dance styles I am focusing the most on are Popping and Breaking but I like to learn other dance styles too because I love to connect all of them. I am working in theaters doing dance shows. I have been teaching dance since I was 16. Who am I? I am a person who loves to evolve and keep on pushing myself to become the best I can be every day. I love to share, to connect and to exchange knowledge and am a big fan of digging into the pool of possibilities.
Q: How would you define your style of dance?
A: My style of dance is who I am and what I am expressing. It shows exactly how far I am alive; it shows my struggles and my strengths. It is strong and it shows that I am not afraid of weakness.
Q: Looking at your years in the dance industry what are some of the challenges you have faced relating to your country Germany?
A: Germany is really uncultured when it comes to art. A lot of the cultural scenes of Germany got lost during World War II. Only a minority of children are growing up in a house where it is normal to dance, sing and listening to music, most of the people, as they grow up, are afraid of dancing in front of people, showing through movement or through other expressions like singing their feelings. It is really sad so I try to work with children and teenagers to encourage them to dance and express themselves through art.
For me, a big challenge is that Hip-hop artists are still not widely accepted in society which results in less funding for projects in the field of Hip-hop or less payment than, for example, if I would dance contemporary or ballet.
Q: In Zimbabwe right now we are still trying to unite our industry and get it together. What are some of the strategies that are being used in Germany to keep your industry moving?
A: What I really love in Europe is that artists from different genres (e.g. Contemporary and Breaking) are slowly starting to connect and to create together. Choreographers plan pieces combining two styles and with doing that, they are uniting dancers from different styles, which reduce prejudice towards the other style and build and move the industry in the direction towards a freer way of expressing.
Q: The German government is set to support the creative industry by putting in about a billion dollars, which is a lot! What is the state of the entertainment and arts in Germany?
A: Yes they support but most of the funding goes to classical arts like orchestras, operas, theaters, ballet companies or Contemporary and modern dance. Slowly, also with the help from big groups like “Flying Steps” the Hip-hop art gets some funding. I am still hoping for an equal support for every artistic field. In the field of Hip-hop it is still a very big struggle to get supported by the government because it is socially not accepted as art.
In Germany there are big theaters, a lot of opportunities and we as a Hip-hop culture and community need to keep working until we are allowed to use them too, such that they are no longer a privilege only for Classical Arts.
Q: What are some of the advantages of studying arts in Germany?
A: Studying in Germany or Switzerland often means a lot of support from the government. It is like that when you study classic arts like Acting, Ballet or an instrument. My school in Switzerland where we trained mixed styles Contemporary, Ballet and Popping, Breaking, House… was not supported by the state so I did not get any support from Germany or Switzerland for paying school bills, living or stationary for school. Lucky enough I got support from a non-governmental foundation. I think since 2020 the school in Switzerland finally got supported by the state and a governmental approved university.
A big advantage was that I had international teachers and what I was really happy about is that well-known dancers often came to our school to teach some extra classes. My school, especially my teachers in Hip-hop styles where always looking for us and finding ways on how to push us and give us as much knowledge as possible.
Q: German is a country which is rich in culture and you fully embrace your culture. How are you using your culture to promote dance?
A: Somehow I am feeling exactly the opposite of Germany and it‘s culture… I think it got lost somewhere and German people have a very hard time to find it again. We don‘t really have traditions, except working hard. We are very hard working people the problem is that too many people use this good feature for working in jobs they don‘t like only for the money not for developing themselves and definitively not for being happy. They work to earn money until they die and forget to live.
I will use this good example of being a hard worker by working hard to better myself, my skills, things I love, like dancing. I use that skill to explain to people the Hip-hop Culture and what it is about and am trying with that to open the possibilities for artists in the field of Hip-hop to get more accepted and respected in the society.
Q: What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
A: Always when I say “I am a professional dancer” people respond “Ah so you dance Ballet” and I am always “No not really, my main style is Breaking, I am dancing in the field of Hip-hop” and they are like “Oh, ok…” and then they either shut up or want me to turn on my head.
A lot of people in Germany don‘t know that Breaking is way more than being able to turn on your head and that Hip-Hop Culture means way more than listening to Rap music.
Q: After you finished training in dance, what did you do?
A: I am doing auditions for stage projects and, if I get chosen I will be part of different stage projects, travelling to New York to learn more about the roots of Hip-hop. I am currently travelling a lot through Europe to join events like Jams, Cyphers and Battles to connect with people and be part of the scene. Also I give workshops and teach Breaking and Movement concepts in dance schools and elementary schools. In the future I would like to do social projects combined with dancing, keep on doing stage projects and I would love to organize Hip-hop events by myself.
Q: Any words of encouragement to dancers here in Zimbabwe?
A: Always be the best you can be and be aware that your best on a particular day is not the same as the best the next day. Sometimes our body is tired and sometimes we feel light like a feather but always do the best you can in that very moment. Never judge anybody especially not yourself. Only observe, find your weakness and then work on it and make it your strength. And most importantly -have a lot of fun doing what you love!
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