The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Dancing for a Living

Hip-hop dance, which is often defined as street dance styles primarily performed to hip-hop music or that have evolved as part of hip-hop culture, has taken the teens and youths by storm. It includes a wide range of styles primarily breaking, locking and popping which were created in the 1970s and made popular by dance groups in the United States.

Groups like Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five as well as Rappers Delight were some of the pioneers of hip-hop music and dance.

Sunningdale-based teen dancer Arnold Thomson is walking the talk as the hip-hop dancer.

Arnold, who has performed at Nama, Hifa, Brick & Lace and TOK concerts, said dancing is his passion.

"I started dancing at the tender age of eight before forming a group at Churchill.

"I have performed at various functions and I take dance as a career," he said.

The talented dancer said his father used to take him to various concerts and shows where he would end up imitating what he saw on stage.

"On television, I used to watch Michael Jackson's videos which also inspired me," he said.

Arnold said dancing was just like sport.

"You also need to work out, eat a balanced diet so that you are flexible.

"It is just like any other profession. There are certain needs and requirements that make you achieve and be good in your relevant field.

"I practise my routines six hours a day and sometimes it is creativity that pushes you further," explained the dancer.

He also won the Zim Finest Dance solo contest .

"One major challenge we face as dancers is support and acceptance.

"Many people associate dancing with prostitution, homosexuality and for those who don't do well in school.

"Little did they know that if taken seriously it can sustain livelihoods. We lack exposure and opportunities but I urge people to fully support us," he said.

He said locals should appreciate the talent and nurture it as it can develop the nation.

"Look at America, there are dance academies that promote talents. It begins with you to build a better nation. Not all of us are good at school.

"Dancing can boost our tourism sector, so something must be done urgently," noted Arnold.

Apart from dancing, Arnold who is inspired by Brian Puspo, the United States hip-hop choreographer, said he is into designing.

"I love designing and very soon will have an established label. My biggest dream is to have my own dance studio," he said.

Arnold is his parents' only child and went to Eastridge Primary School and Churchill Boys' High.

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