The Art of Dance

I recently attended the Coast Afro-Latin Diani Escapade, which, for the record, was one of the most fun and best Afro-Latin social dance nights in Kenya for a while. I met some amazing people, among which were Kenyans, Tanzanians, Zambians, and a few Europeans. As I watched the handsome men and gorgeous women move on the dance floor, I could not help but marvel at how they told beautiful stories with the movement of their bodies and step of their feet. Not even the rain would stop them from embracing the moment and creating memories. Issa, one of the participants from Tanzania, watched from a distance as a couple took it to the dance floor.

“That is art,” he said. “The way they are using themselves to paint an image of a beautiful story on the dance floor is emblematic of excellence. You can feel their energy and chemistry, even from a distance. You can see they are happy together. They are inseparable.”

He was not mistaken on anything. I looked on and felt they were telling a story of love. Their energies transmitted onto each other like foul smell in a church. I watched as their heads tingled and their knees touched. You see, there is something pleasantly romantic about kizomba. It is about connection, leadership, following, rhythm, and chemistry. It is about energy exchange in a way no mood can disconnect. Kizomba makes people want to breathe, then talk, then breathe, and smile, then grit their teeth; all at once. As I said, pleasantly convoluted. Yet, for all the intrigues, their four minutes of pleasure absolutely told a story. Then, as they finished their dance, I learnt that they did not like each other. What a waste of a story!

Fast-forward last week, I attended a dance competition that I did not help organize in Nairobi. Unlike the Diani escapade, Nairobi was all about performance and the battle for prize money. Everything from hip-hop to acrobatics, salsa, and dance storytelling (I made this name up by the way). I could not help but notice how the mood of dance was almost always set by the song chosen by the performers. A duo, which only went by the name “Pek” from Kibera performed one of those storytelling dances. Dancing to Harry Styles’ “Falling,” they told a beautiful story of gender-based violence, rape, trauma, and suicide (you should listen to this song). They showed a great story of the fall from grace so disgraced and to depths utterly exalted. From her cheerful life to being raped then beaten and then taking matters in her own hands and murdering him (he deserved it by the way. He did). “And I get the feeling that you’ll never need me agaaaaaaaaainnnnnn…” the speakers could not be louder as the brute held his hands tight around her needle-thin neck. Then, when I thought she had won, she committed suicide. What a waste of my emotions!

I could go on and on about my experiences with dancers and their art of telling stories, events, and connections on the dance floor. I could tell you about the Giriama dancers I watched in December or those Maasai dancers somewhere in the Maasai Village at Maasai Mara. However, I prefer to ask whether you have considered dancing a hobby, career, or even physical activity. Have you? If you haven’t, you should. I have watched people create relationships through the art of dancing. I have watched the travels and tourism that dance creates in stories so good that you want to keep dancing.

In the words of a talented man, “Would you let me see beneath your beautiful; Would you let me see beneath your perfect; Take it off now girl, take it off now girl; I wanna see inside; Would you let me see beneath your beautiful tonight.”

See you on the dance floor.