CHITUNGWIZA dancer Panashe Gabi shrugged off stiff competition from 79 other contestants last week to win the Rivalskool Battle at the 10th edition of the Jibilika Dance Festival.
BY PRECIOUS CHIDA
The festival, which brought to the limelight amazing talent, including National Music Awards winning group Magesh, Rolx Dance Group, Flip Floppers and ProBeatz, will again be putting Gabi on the map as they are sending him to represent Zimbabwe at the Ultimate Battle Rivalskool in France on December 10 this year. NewsDay reporter Precious Chida (ND) caught up with Gabi (PG), who opened up about his profession, among other things. Below are the excerpts from the interview.
ND: Who is Panashe Gabi and how can you describe yourself in three words?
PG: Panashe Gabi is a young man aged 20 and a dancer. Described in three words, I am humble, passionate and kind.
ND: How did you get into dancing and when did you first cut your teeth in the industry?
PG: Dancing has always been in me. I was born a dancer, but I then got into the industry in 2014 with Elysium Dance Theatre.
ND: How did your family feel about it?
PG: My father passed away when I was five, but my mother has always been there for me. She has always supported me and she enjoys what I do.
ND: What do you enjoy most about your dancing career? And what is the most challenging part?
PG: I enjoy every bit of my career because it’s who I am. I feel good when I am doing it.
You know that everyone needs money, so because of that, I face monetary problems because it is not easy to get contracts as a dancer.
Sometimes I spend two to three months without getting any contract.
ND: After winning Jibilika, you were selected to represent Zimbabwe at the Ultimate Battle Rivalskool in France. What does this mean for your career?
PG: I am really happy that I was selected to represent Zimbabwe in France and I think this is a breakthrough in my career. It is going to be the start of greater things to come.
ND: Do you think you stand a chance to win again in France?
PG: Yes, I think I have a chance to win in France because at the end of the day, we are all humans, whether you are from France or the United States. So I can be able to do whatever they can do. There are no limitations.
However, I know that I have to up my game and do a lot of practice because I will be representing my country.
ND: Do you think Zimbabweans appreciate dancing as a career?
PG: I have never thought about that because I don’t care about whether the nation appreciates dance or they don’t.
This is a gift that came from God and I have told myself that l will use it to my advantage.
ND: Is it possible to earn a liing through dancing alone in Zimbabwe?
PG: Yes, it is very possible. The sky is always the limit, as long as you use the right strategy and if you have the right connections, anything is possible.
ND: Besides getting money and the value of exercising in dance, does it have any other benefits for you? Can it be a form of release?
PG: Sometimes when I am sad, lonely or stressed, dancing just helps release all that stuff so dance is everything to me.
I might be getting a bit of income from it, but I am benefiting a lot more than just that.
ND: Who is your role model?
PG: My role model Tyrese (Gibson, an American rapper, singer and actor).
He was one of the people that started with the type of genre that I like dancing to.
ND: On the domestic front, are you married? Dating?
PG: I am not dating anyone at the moment. I am still single and searching.
ND: What are your future plans?
PG: When I reach the age of 35 I want to stop dancing and be an arts promoter. I do not want to focus on dance alone, but all aspects involved in arts because I am so passionate about helping other youths out there, who want to achieve their dreams, but do not have the disposable income.
I just pray that by then God would have blessed me with success.
ND: Can you share your desire?
PG: I wish that all good dancers can be recognised in the same way as big artistes like Tuku (Oliver Mtukudzi), Winky D and Jah Prayzah, so that our flag can also be raised high.
ND: What’s your advice to youths who want to achieve their dreams like you?
PG: The first thing in life is to pray. God has all the power to make us achieve our dreams.
Second, I advise other youths to work hard in everything that they do because everything comes through sweat and tears.
ND. Thank you, Panashe, for opening up on your life and art to us. We wish you all the best in your endeavours.
PG: Thank you as well.