DANCE involves usage of space and increases human interactions of which, in most cases, cuts across generations.
Dance goes beyond entertainment, prompting artistes to call for this form of art to be taken seriously because it plays a pivotal role in cultural preservation and storytelling.
Sadly, the art of dancing and choreographing is not well appreciated locally, resulting in most dancers not being paid properly, especially at the beginning of their careers.
Elysium Magna Dance Theatre director and popular choreographer Tafadzwa Tandi-Chingono, popularly known in the showbiz as Hilary Indi, believes standards for dancers need to be improved.
Indi is famed for his character James in the now-defunct television drama series, Studio 263 which was broadcast on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Television.
“Musicians and entities who engage dancers anywhere in this land, thank you for the opportunities you offer the dancers, but please pay them well and on time and in full,” he said, further noting that exposure does not pay dancers’ bills or feed them, but money does.
“You cannot speak of giving them (dancers) exposure while your brand is moving up and yet you pay the dancers next to nothing. You will not be sitting on your nice office chairs for exposure, you are working and earning. They (dancers), too, have bills and responsibilities and their craft takes time, resources, effort and a lot of work to culminate into the pieces you see on any platform.”
Indi said he does his choreography work at both Allure Schools and at Elysium Magna Dance Theatre.
“What I love about teaching dance is the final outcome after months of conditioning and grooming a person. Elysium Magna Dance Theatre does not audition a person, it deposits into them. This is the strength of Elysium Magna and I enjoy every bit of the process to the final outcome, which is always very satisfying,” he explained.
“Teaching dance, however, comes with a lot of barking, snarling, tough love, tears, sweat and yes, bruises ... Lots and lots of bruises.”
He indicated that it took him a lot of planning, dedication, commitment and consistency to get where they are as Elysium Magna Dance Theatre, which won the Outstanding Dance Group at the recently held National Arts Merit Awards.
“Passion, creativity and hard work are at the centre of what we do and I love that the Elysians quickly adapted to this. Discipline is a key ingredient without which, none of this would be happening,” he said.
“Prayer and faith always keep us going, God then just shows up and aligns everything. Elysium Magna Dance Theatre does nothing by its own power, God deposits the idea and sees it through, always. We just wait on Him and keep the faith as we tackle any obstacle.”
Indi said the international community has been very receptive of Zimbabwean art, especially what they produce at Elysium Magna Dance Theatre.
“Anyone from anywhere can easily relate to our performances as they can find elements of their own since the group is adept at fusion different art forms and disciplines. As artists, we continue to find more creative ways of expressing ideas without losing the root of who we are as a people. They will come to look for us, they will find us and, in the process, find themselves,” he added.
Indi encouraged rising artistes to take time to learn from others and forge collaborations to develop their own signatures.