A year ago, the media was awash with the exciting news of a young girl who defied the odds in a tough dance competition largely dominated by males as she won a trip to France from the Zimbabwe Edition of the annual Rival Skool Battle. Tanaka Machikicho indeed went on to represent Zimbabwe so well, besides losing the final battle in Paris, she brought back home some gems of insight from an exposed view of the dance fraternity. We recently sat down for a chat with Tanaka for our SPoTLIGHT feature, the following is the transcript of our conversation.

by Tafadzwa Gambiza

The industry is mainly dominated by male dancers but there are notable female dancers doing great things too. What more can be done for the industry to encourage a balance?

“I think we should continue having both male & female dancers working together to show that females can be as good as the male dancers. Also we should make people stop discriminating female dancers, most people are still saying “female dancers only dance feminine moves, they don’t do serious things like the boys”, when a lot of female dancers out there are doing the most but not being recognized.”

About a decade ago we had many B-boy and B-girl dancers, now we only have a few worth mentioning, what does it mean for you?

“Yes, I’ve seen so many people getting influenced by many things like Tik-tok challenges, Afro challenges, social media, new genres etc. These are going viral so fast that it attracts us as dancers to participate in them, which is leading some to stop doing B-boy/B-girl. But we still have quite a number of them left who are going strong representing us very well.”

We have the likes of B-boy Kid Tribe and B-boy Omatic who have been consistent with their craft and participating in online battles. What do you think can be done for the genre to be revolutionized and brought back to its glory?

“The B-boys & B-girls should continue to inspire and teach others more about this amazing genre, especially young kids. They shouldn’t be afraid to walk up to a person and say “Heyy, have you heard of a genre called B-boy/B-girl, you should try it, it’s a cool genre for you to learn and you have a chance to become a good B-boy/B-girl”. The more they approach, the more the genre can get recognized in this country and be brought back to its glory.”

There are always challenges in any industry, what are some of the challenges in the dance industry?

“The most challenges we facing in the dance industry is VALUING OURSELVES & Getting The Respect We Deserve. We are tired of crying out telling artists or clients what we worth of but most just bring down our value and when we accept to work with them, we get mistreated or disrespected. Most people don’t understand that us dancers we only do the work that we agreed on, we don’t like to be put under pressure to do something that we don’t professionally do.”

During this lockdown we have seen more dance competitions arising across Africa. Some of our dancers have competed with other countries. You recently took second place on a talent show, how was it for you?

“It was great how I got an opportunity to compete and took 2nd place. These type of competitions have been giving us dancers an opportunity to place ourselves on the map and showcase what we made of and what we good at, which is the greatest thing that has been happening during this lockdown.”

2019 “Machikicho danced to France”; you won the third edition of the Jibilika Battle “Rival Skool competition and you became the first ever woman to win. How was the feeling?

Honestly, it was a shocking moment and it still is shocking to me that i was the 1st ever woman to win and go represent the country in France. But it was a great feeling as well that I represented my other sisters out there, showing that female dancers can battle too and we not afraid to battle with male dancers.”

What can our industry learn from France?

“Our industry can learn how to support each other and to be honest with each other. I’ve noticed some dancers support other dancers, but secretly go behind and learn that other genre just because they saw them getting gigs or calls from clients. It’s way better to continue doing what you do best whilst supporting your other fellow dancers without trying to embarrass yourself doing something that you not meant to do. And also try to just tell another dancer that “can i give you a tip or some advice about where you going wrong or how you can improve”, that’s another way to be honest and to be supportive.”

Some dancers are crying out about opportunities. Are there enough opportunities for dancers in Zimbabwe?

“Well this is a 50/50 situation because, yes there are enough opportunities for dancers in Zimbabwe, but most opportunities can’t accommodate a lot of dancers. Most dancers miss out because some opportunities could be looking for a certain number of dancers only, which makes it harder for some to get that chance.”

What can you say to other dancers out there?

“Thank you for working hard and pushing our dance industry to the top. Continue grinding and showing people out there what Zimbabwean dancers are made of, continue working & collaborating with other dancers and continue believing in yourself, don’t dance just because, dance from your heart.”

If another dancer wants to collaborate with you in any project how can they get in touch with you?

“They can get in touch with me through:
Call/SMS/Whatsapp: +263774354430
Instagram: Tan_tan_nicky
Facebook: Tanaka Nicole”

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