NOLEEN “Zoey” Sifelani — one of the country’s leading dancers — is probably many a married woman’s nightmare, what with accusations that she, together with another raunchy dancer, Beverly “Bev” Sibanda have been accused of being out to snatch other women’s husbands because of their “illicit” dances.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
But Zoey’s feathers have not been ruffled because she has taken it all in her lap, even fuelling her passion for this novel art that has taken Zimbabwe by storm.
She said she has been a recipient of widespread criticism from many sections of society ranging from religious figures to traditionalists, arguing that her activities represent the height of moral decadence in society, she insists she is not moved.
“I faced a lot of criticism from all angles and that has actually made me strong in the industry and I will strive to get where I am destined,” Zoey told NewsDay this week in a wide-ranging interview.
Together with the group of dancers that she fronts, Red Angels, their act has become a staple in the local showbiz diet.
Ironically, she has won the support of women desperate to spice up their sex life, who have opted to be under her tutelage.
The self-acclaimed kingpin of pole dancing in Zimbabwe, Zoey is proving to be popular among local women who now flock to her “school of sex” in Avondale, where they learn from her how to spice up their sex lives.
Zoey told NewsDay that she teaches chinamwari — from the Nyanja term chinamwali — a “for the bedroom only” practice incorporating sexual moves and positions meant to give one’s sex life a boost. It is a form of seductive entertainment that helps in getting both the husband and wife aroused.
Research has shown that the chinamwari tradition has roots in Malawi and Zambia, while others attribute it to the Shangaan tribe that is found in parts of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique.
Men are said to be the greatest advocators of this tradition, as they seem to enjoy the fruits of chinamwar dance, to such an extent they encourage their wives to learn the traditional practice. Out of fear of losing their husbands, some women agree to learn the practice.
Early this week NewsDay visited Zoey’s dancing academy and witnessed a number of women from across generations coming for “sex” lessons.
When the NewsDay team arrived at the academy, Zoey was conducting lessons with two ladies, who looked to be in their early 20s, as she waited for another, who arrived later and headed straight to the classroom.
Zoey admitted that she was recording brisk business, as a lot of women were coming to her to be taught about the chinamwari tradition.
Some people have started hiring her to share with them her “bedroom secrets” at kitchen parties and other women’s social gatherings.
“On several occasions, women approach me requesting that I teach them dance routines they would have seen during my live performances at different clubs and the overwhelming demand prompted me to open the academy,” she said.
“I have taught a number of women, with the help of my dancers, since opening the academy and from the responses I am getting, women appreciate what I am doing for them. I am doing this to help fellow women who are in marriages. Women are supposed to be active during sex and that’s all I am teaching them.”
She said classes are held from Monday to Friday at a fee of $20 per session, where students are taught how to walk in a “sexy” way and how to sit seductively, among others things that attract their husbands.
“A full session is two weeks long. A student comes for three days a week and it encompasses five things ranging from how to perform the famous seductive dances to taking care of their own husbands and personal hygiene,” she said.
“I have received messages from women, who attended these classes, expressing their gratitude and acknowledging that things have improved in their bedrooms.”
●Men are interested
Zoey said some men have also indicated their interests and wanted sex lessons as well, but she turned them down, as her classes are tailor-made for women.
“I am playing the role of an aunt to women,” she said. “I have noticed that several men ‘salivate’ at me during my performances to an extent that some of them have been pestering me for sex.”
The dancer said her advice to them was that they should bring their wives for lessons and that was how the men would benefit from the lessons when things steamed up in the bedroom.
“My advice to such men is that just bring them (wives) for lessons and you will have the full package that you witness on stage under their roof,” Zoey said.
“Men love what I am doing and I have been approached by a number of them during or after my dance shows, with some connecting me with their girlfriends to come for lessons.”
She said although she was happy with the fast growth of the academy, she is aiming higher so that she builds a big arts centre like Amakhosi in Bulawayo.
“I get most of my clients during my performances, although I have several being referred to me from our previous clients,” she said.
●Relationship with Bev
Although there have been widespread reports of a rivalry between Zoey and Bev, the former said the “bad blood” was a thing of the past.
She said there were not enemies but just competitors.
“We are not enemies with Bev, as many would want to believe. We might be competitors as dancers, but that does not mean we are enemies. Many people do not know that we communicate and recently we went out together for fun at Sulumani Chimbetu and Peter Moyo show,” she said.