Stanbic Bank Piazza was moderately filled by dance enthusiasts and art fanatics on the 28th of January in celebration of the second birthday of monthly youth event ‘Chillstep Sundays’. Different entrepreneurs came out to showcase their products, from the Liquid Library to Loci.
The event saw what different talented youth of Botswana had since they have been preparing for two weeks. Preparation for the event was a definite race against time where dancers rehearsed up to five times a week. In addition to the actual event, Chillstep also offered a dance and theatre workshop skills to educate people involved or interested in the arts industry. The key speakers at this workshop consisted of the marketing and project director at Mophato Dance Theatre, Kealeboga Motsumi, director of Maitisong, Tefo Paya, Founder of Strut’N’Heels, Gala M, Co-Artist Director at Mophato Dance Theatre, Kalima Mipata, Founder of Urban Empire, Mix Kasamwa and special key note addresses from DJ Izzy. This workshop took place a day prior to the ‘United We Dance’ event at the Little Theatre situated at the Museum in the Main Mall.
Additional brands that were also showcasing their talents were, Yana The Movement, Ms Jive and several Maruapula Secondary School students. We caught up with Kalima Mipata, who was the head choreographer for the event for his input towards the success of the event. “United We Dance is an annual appreciation of dance culture in Botswana put together by Chillstep Sundays. This is an effort to unite not just dancers but the youth of Botswana through giving them platforms to express themselves, to share their creativity and to show their skills especially in dance.” He stated further that Chillstep promotes art as a whole.
The movement has decided to appreciate the dance fraternity in the country every first month of the year as their contribution in growing dance and talent, as well as exercising their primary mandate which is developing youth in arts. “This year we had a different taste to the stage. We incorporated different styles of dance. We had dancers coming from as far as Serowe and Gantsi taking part. The turn out was exceptionally good compared to last year but we believe in years to come people will start appreciating more about the art of dance in the country,” he concluded.
Mdu Tha Party took lead as the Master of Ceremonies and as usual was a blast as he blew the audience off their feet with his contagious hype. The crowd was very reciprocal and was vividly amused as they danced along. Gala M of Strut’N’Heels was appreciative of the opportunity that Chillstep Sundays awarded her to showcase her brand. “This meant growth and exposure to what it is that we really do and why we do it. I got to see females throw sentiments like, I sure can dance honey, but not in heels’ to ‘oh wow, his isn’t actually bad, I feel sexy’. To me that’s some positive feedback. That’s what I want(ed) to hear. I want people to enjoy my choreography, to explore more of their dance abilities and to know that the art of dance shouldn’t only be limited to traditional styles. Seeing that ladies enjoy high heels, why not dance in them too? I got so many calls now since the event of people asking to join my classes. They want to feel powerful and sexy.”
Clearly this event has deemed itself highly significant and highly respected as well as needed. Although it may seem dandy and perfect, a dancer who chose to remain anonymous stated that the event was not able to live up to last year’s success because there is plenty that could have been improved like payment of the dancers that were involved in the execution of this event. “A lot of us did not see the need to push the event as much as we did in the past year because we did not feel respected as a talent. The owner and founder of Chillstep Sundays made promises that did not come to fruition. He stated that as compensation for participating he would get us exposure by getting Vuzu TV and MTV from South Africa to cover the event which did not happen. It can be said that I have beef with them now but its all-in efforts for our arts to be given the respect they require because this is our livelihood and should be treated as such.” An intense mouthful but was sure relevant to shed light on what goes on behind the scenes of what seems like perfection on the outside.
Let us hope going forward every party involved will get what is due to them.