By Juliet Mashiri
She looked as if she was dancing on air as she glided so effortlessly across the stage, her back was arched and her arms in an arc like the wings of a bird in flight. It was unlike anything I had ever witnessed before and I became entranced in the performance. I remember sitting on the edge of my seat, with my breath held in anticipation of what would come next. The music playing in the background a catalyst for the emotions that were racing through me. As it reached its crescendo, the dancer in synchronised graceful movements pirouetted off the stage, in a whirlwind of white fabric never to be seen again. With that, the lights came on and a deafening sound of applause filled the theatre.
Until that day I had never seen a dancer live on stage, let alone a ballet dancer. I was hooked and I wanted my mother to enrol me for classes straight away so that I could also be a dancer in The Nutcracker the following year. However, this was not to be the case as I soon learnt that it took years of ballet for me to be able to earn my pointe shoes or even become a principal dancer in such a production.
The reason why we had gone to watch the show is that my sister’s class was also performing in one of the productions. She was not amused by my newfound obsession of wanting to be,’The Ballerina’ in the family, as she had already been taking ballet classes for a couple of years. Despite our humorous sibling squabble, our mother signed me up for classes with my sister’s ballet school. After a year I even went on to achieve my dream of performing live on stage, I sadly do not remember which production it was, but I remember having the most fun and dancing my little heart out with a smile permanently etched on my face.
As is often the case I ended up quitting as I just did not have the patience to put in years of dedication into mastering this fine art. I went on to do rhythmic gymnastics which I thoroughly enjoyed. My sister, however, took it one step further and decided to take all the required ballet examinations and is now on track to complete her program in becoming a certified ballet teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance.
Lessons I learnt from my experience is that dance requires commitment and a willingness to perfect your craft. There were days when my sister simply wanted to give up but, she knew she had a goal she wanted to achieve so she persevered. Most of the time, parents in Zimbabwe sign up their child for an activity such as piano, singing, swimming or even cooking and along the way we get bored and just move on to something else and then something else. I believe through having a strong support system and a firm guiding hand when trying these activities, you can eventually pick one or two that you are good at. Having a craft that you can dedicate yourself to has its rewards, in the long run, such as instilling discipline in you. Depending on the interest, this could also be a career path and give opportunities to go on international tournaments or get awarded a scholarship.
Activities in Zimbabwe that you can consider are:
Swimming, ballet, tap dance, contemporary dance, artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, karate, golf, judo, cross country, yoga, singing, playing a musical instrument coding, robotics, cooking, photography, hiking, mountain biking, book clubs, etc. Comment down below and let us know if you have tried any of these activities.
Photography : Tamuka Nyoni