Dancing is a strange thing isn’t? Like… you swing an arm that way, move your foot this way, shake your head like this and wiggle your body like that, to sounds that you hear (or think you hear). Yet it’s so freeing, it just feels right. It’s a very personal thing, this strange thing we call dance. Like singing, everybody does it. Everybody has that little person inside them that just wants to break free, run amok, dancing and singing. Unfortunately, the majority of us leave that person caged within the confines of our bedroom, shower, whenever we’re alone and away from the judgement of others. This is the story of how I grew the confidence to break away from my own self-imposed prison, accomplishing a dream, an ambition, to perform live in front of an audience.
How it all came down to this one moment.
This was by no means my first performance, and hopefully it’s not my last. By the time this moment came I had been featured in dance videos, a music video, and a short film; I had performed fully clothed and at times with very little (don’t worry it was all very PG). But all these moments were in front of camera, posted on YouTube, Vimeo and other video platforms. Was I nervous? Was there pressure? Well of course, seeing how things go viral, good or bad, I could have faced adulation or absolute ridicule from potentially millions.
But that didn’t scare me.
So what did?
Look at these two, dancing like nobody’s watching. Not a care in a world. They danced until they were collapsed sweaty messes falling asleep on a chair, only to wake up 20 minutes later and do it all again.
Why did I lose that?
Do we all lose that at some point? Do we all have that fear? The fear of losing the freedom to be yourself, not being that same person that you are when nobody’s watching, the person you see in the mirror because some other other person deems it embarrassing or whatever. I wanted to regain that freedom, that confidence of childhood, that confidence to make mistakes and be myself. Children, for the most part, don’t really care. We don’t tell them that they have to sing like this and dance like that, and even if you did, how often do they listen? So I had to get that back, too often we grow up and give up things that we love because society or culture pressures us into following certain avenues, giving you no time to work on your passions, in favour of mundane things like jobs and careers.
I’m by no means telling you to quit your job to pursue your passions, truth is that we can’t all be professional ballerinas and Grammy nominated rappers, Ballon D’Or footballers and celebrity gamers. You can, however, be a ballerina, be a rapper, be a footballer, and be gamer. I’m just trying to say that wherever your life takes you, don’t stop working on your passions. These are what makes us unique.
But anyway, I digress. Back to why I started moving my feet and shaking my tush.
So, why did I start dancing?
Well, truth be told, I was always surrounded by dance, it was part of the culture I was brought up in. Weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, bereavements; there was always a display of the traditional Rwandan dance, with the flowing moves and ankle tambourines (not sure what they are called but they’re pretty cool, here’s a link to give you a taste). Even growing up in France, friends and in-laws brought in a variety of different styles, from the Coupé Décalé of the Ivory Coast to the Polynesian versions of the Haka. This by no way meant that I was any good at dancing but I was fortunate that I grew up around a close knit community that allowed the diffusion of different styles and perspectives.
Despite being exposed to so much dance, I had never had the courage to strut my stuff in front of people. I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that I would dance, be rubbish at it, make a fool of myself, and have others make fun of the way that I move. I was always jealous of those, even now, that can dance in confidence and not give a damn about those that are watching. The confidence of a child, I wanted that.
Things began to change when a close friend, Passilio, who had moved from to France from Wallis & Futuna, started taking hip hop dance classes. Before you knew it, he started his dance crew and was improving at an incredible rate, posting videos up fairly regularly showing of the latest moves that he’d learned. I was jealous. Here I was watching his videos in my pyjamas at an ungodly hour at night, absolutely mesmerised by the way he could move his body. At times, he seemed as if he had no bones, flowing like water. Other times, he almost seemed robotic, moving to clockwork precision. It was just too cool. Before you knew it, I would be searching the depths of YouTube and various other video platforms for tutorials, practicing different moves within the confines of my room.
Minutes turned to hours, hours began days. My dance started leaving my room, escaping slowly onto the streets. My walks to school had an extra bounce as I’d picture myself moving to the music in ears, shopping was a little more bearable as I’d help my mum pick items but do it with an extra little bit of MJ in step (just for the record, they were just slight movements that would go unnoticed by passersby, I wasn’t dancing full out, that would be weird wouldn’t it now?).
That looks pretty cool, right?
Several years later, though it was on and off due to other commitments, I had progressed to the point where I had the confidence to tell others that I was learning to dance. Progressed enough to the point I could show off a move here and a move there really. I was now training with Passilio and other talented dancers whenever I was back in France, although “training” is probably not the word, it wasn’t very serious at all.
But I finally got to the point where I had finally taken my newly found passion out of my bedroom.
I wanted to see how far I could take it.
|First ever dance video, photo by Ewan Paton.|
The release of my first ever music video was the one of the most nerve-wracking moments of life. I had never featured in a video, much less one where I would be required to dance on my own. Yet it was something that I had always wanted to do and just had to throw myself into it. I was finally going public. All the excitement on the lead up to the video shoot had suddenly turned into nerves with a pinch of dread. Part of me felt like backing out and calling the whole thing off, but I knew that this was something that I had to do. Part of me felt like returning to that kid confined to dancing in this bedroom….
Breath in Sergeyboy
You can do this
What’s the worst that could happen?
Well worst thing that could happen would be that I dance horribly and the every person with access to YouTube laughs and points, causing me to sit in the corner of a dark room until the trolling and abuse subsides. Fortunately, the exact opposite happened. At that moment it was by far the proudest moment of life, the outpouring of support was simply surreal. Even people I expected to troll me seemed to enjoy my work and lent their support to the project. This was the moment I decided to go into production and create bigger and better dance videos. So throughout my undergraduate life, I continued to look to make dance videos, develop and improve. We made fun little projects over the years, some made it to fruition, and unfortunately, others never made it to screen. But they were all a pleasure to work on nonetheless (the list of names is too long so I’ll thank you all at the end, please bear with me).
All of sudden, it was all gone.
The passion to dance
The love for it
All of it
|First ever music video, had a great crew working together|
End of Part One, Part Two will come out on the 22nd February.