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Edutainment mix:Dance a potent tool in youth development

Loxion Dance Crew operates from the Mzilikazi youth center in Bulawayo.

DANCE is a powerful art, and some dance moves have powerful meanings. We are all driven by a sense of rhythm which is compelled by the feeling of a musical sound and excitement which leads into frenzy, hence dance.

The art of dance has a powerful effect on an audience watching, and also on the dancers on the stage. I remain mesmerized by the sheer amount of talent that many youth have when it comes to dancing, and in actual fact, their use of dance as an arts tool for the capacitation of edutainment.

Loxion Dance Crew operates from the Mzilikazi youth center in Bulawayo.  It is a good example of youths who are using the power of dance to effect change within their communities.

The group comprises different young people with ages ranging from 13 years to 24 years who have a passion to express themselves using the art of dance.

The director of the group Lymon Tana Moyo who uses the moniker “Lights Ako Bulawayo” sayd: “Dance unites, attracts and is a great tool to gather the youth; especially the young generation affectionately referred to as ama2k into an activity that can safeguard them from the scourge of drug abuse, risky sexual behaviors and deviant behavior which can in turn affect and also in the process impact heavily on their future. The dance group was founded on the premise of the enhancement of the capacitation of the youth through life skills based on coaching and other dance related art activities.”

Moyo says the Loxion Dance Crew comprises youths from different areas such as Mzilikazi, Makokoba, Sauerstown, Entumbane, Nkulumane and High Mount.

“These are youth who have a passion for expression through dance but in the process they inculcate a sense of awareness with regards to different very salient issues that can be linked to children’s rights and advocacy related topics, as well as issues pertaining to gender based violence,” Moyo said.

He said some of the life skill arts projects taught to the youths include farming.

“They have collaborated with the Mambira Foundation which has been training young people on agricultural methods called permaculture. Recently, they attended a permaculture workshop at the Mzilikazi Youth Center. These workshops have been facilitated by one J.R Morgan from America who has shown us how to do sustainable farming projects that can elevate the youth in the enhancement of our livelihoods through the potential of agriculture.”

He said the youthful dancers have also engaged a lady within the Mzilikazi community to teach them how to manufacture detergents and beverages.

“This can be something that can play a role in the enhancement of means to access incomes, and in the process sponsor their dance endeavors as it is something that is driven by the need for the group to have a stable financial backing so as to produce quality works.”

One of the dancers Selena Makwinja said; “We encourage the members of the group to frequent gyms so as to maintain a strong physique because dancing is a physically demanding routine. Being fit is a key concept. The strengthening of good hygiene practices is something that is a life skill, which we teach to the children and youth in our dance group. We teach one another cookery skills and take turns to empower each other. And as a girl child, this has sharpened me and instilled a sense of responsibility in me.”

Another dancer, Prince Ncube said: “We use dance as a main activity in the dance group.  The youths are also involved in musical projects.  We have managed to record two tracks.  We also do drama and theatre pieces.  We constantly engage in a series of activities as we have to avoid idleness which can in turn prevent forms of risky behavior on the youth.”

Cofounder of Loxion Dance Troupe Simbarashe Mabhiza added:  “As a group, we have a diverse target market. This means we can perform at parties such as weddings, shows like festivals, dance expos, and commissioned events like community outreach projects hosted by different organisations. In our dances, we do not limit ourselves to only dancing “Amapiano” but we have a diverse set of dance pieces which are done for a typically specific audience, depending on the age and needs of the audience. We also dance to funky music and also African music. So as dancers we also play the role of promoting musicians with danceable music and hence it is an opportunity for local musicians to produce energetic tunes.”

The industry of dance is also fraught with a myriad of challenges, which especially pose risks to the girl child.

The protection of the girl child becomes something that is of importance especially within the field of dance as there have been many female dancers and artists who have succumbed to the scourge of HIV and early pregnancy which has affected flourishing careers.

“It is of importance to note that as a dance group we do our activities with the girl child and children who are still minors. When we go for shows and events, we ensure that we create safe spaces where the children and the teenagers are taught the art of respect. We as the directors of the group strive really hard to be strict and make sure that when the dancers go for a show, they know that they are in it for business and hence must focus. To protect the dancers, especially the girls we make sure that all communication channels are done through the directors as they are the key responsible parties.  The protection and indemnification of the dancers remains our key priority so that they become aware that they are operating in a safe space. There is deep awareness of the vulnerability of the girl child to predators and perverted individuals who may end up destroying the future of the children,” Mabhiza said.

He said some of the challenges experienced by the dance group relate to buying attractive costumes for stage performances.

“We are a group of about 30 individuals and we have a few costumes for our performances. We would wish to have more costumes for different performance sets such as traditional, vintage and modern wear. Topping our challenges is the need for us to have a P.A system that we can call ours so that our rehearsals can run smoothly and efficiently.”

  •  Raymond Millagre Langa is musician, poet, orator, independent researcher and founder of Indebo edutainment Trust. You can follow on Face book @Millagre Ray Langa, on Twitter you can follow on #Millagre Langa, email. millagrepapito@gmail.com or indebotrust@gmail.com.

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