Dance for A dime?

Dance is prominent in Malawian culture, but can one consider it a career? Our Reporter ALBERT SHARRA explores.

There is one thing that stands out with Zembani Band when it comes to stage performance—the dancers mesmerise the audience.

However, the stunning story about dancing for a music band rests in one of Zembani Band’s dancer, Jane Anije Khongwa.

She has been with the band since 1999 and her dancing antics remain superb.

Khongwa, who is now married and has a child, says she has soared high with her dancing styles.

In a Facebook interview from South Africa, Khongwa said dancing is a career that should be promoted and recognised.

“I love my career and it has exposed me to the world. I am currently in South Africa with the band for a month,” said Khongwa adding that her success has not been spared by challenges, particularly negative comments.

“Dancing is like writing and acting and I should not hide, it is a well-paying career. I have been making a living out of it. I founded a boutique in Balaka and my relatives depend on me for a living,” said the first-born in a family of five.

The Stepas, formerly The Floor Steppas, are in for serious business and devote their time to dancing despite its members being in school.

Tilumba Chirwa, a dance instructor for the group, says there is hope for more in future.

“Living on the arts is a hit-and-miss game. One must really develop a strong following and strong brand with unique features to secure lasting financial success. Any career becomes worth pursuing once it creates enough value for people to pay money for it,” he said.

Wendy Harawa, who also made a mark in music through her roles as a vocalist and a dancer at Zembani, rates dancing as a rewarding career.

“It is a career I can urge anyone to concentrate on. It complements music and creates celebrities. It is just unfortunate that it is not recognised as it is done outside Malawi,” said Harawa.

She confesses that many dancers are making a living out of that.

“Music is about excellence. Khongwa is the best dancer and she earns more than many dancers. We cannot even debate that she is a celebrity of her own class and lives a good life,” said Harawa who believes degrading comments have scared away some talent.

To this, rests names like that of Balaka girl Mirella Nkhoma who despite being a good dancer was forced to leave the stage on grounds of protecting her youth.

Maliro feels stage performances and videos are complete with good music and dancing.

“Music patrons also enjoy dancing,” he said.

Maliro said dancers deserve good perks. He however, said it is a challenge in Malawi because most bands are not sponsored.

Maliro added that dancing half-naked just spoils the whole essence.n

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