I am wondering where I should start? Various things I can say, so many twists and turns I can take! Hmmm, word count though!
Okay, here goes. Snippets of where my love for dancing and fitness comes from. As far as I can remember from my grandmother down to the youngest child in our family all seems to be involved in things with sporty elements.
Born in Haringey London to Nigerian parentage, I spend most of my formative years in Nigeria. I was into different types of sports you name I did it. At the age of 19, I came back to England.
On nights out with friends, being the first on the dance floor and the last to leave. After about 3 years of doing all sorts, the pull towards dance was always there so I went to study dance foundation course and drama at the Birmingham Schools of Speech and Drama and after 2 years I went back to full times work which included chambermaid, boy! That was hard on the back and it took a year I believe before going back to studying. The challenge here was that I still had to work as well as trying to focus fully on studying performing arts.
While studying I meet the artistic director of Sakoba Dance Theatre based in London, with whom I began to work as a trainee dance assistant and that was how my dance career started. Touring with various dance companies including Kokuma Dance Theatre which was the reason I moved from London to live in Birmingham. 6 years into a full-time dance career, am like okay, there needs to be an addition somehow to balance my income stream. So in 2010, I trained to become a personal trainer but just 2 years after strategy struck. I became seriously ill which brought everything to a standstill for me for another 4 years. Though I was wasting away the doctors could not diagnose what was wrong. I was so emaciated my legs were like twigs and when the wind blows too hard they would snap.
A shadow of myself I was too embarrassed to go outside let alone look at people’s faces. On a particular day, I went out making sure I kept myself warm from the cold weather I padded myself quite well so I thought – had leggings and layers of thick winter trousers on with the last layer fastened tightly, really tightly with a belt. Remember, I mentioned earlier I was emaciated and not wanting people staring any longer than necessary!
On my way back home I noticed I was walking funny like a baby with a very wet nappy, putting the key to the front door with very shaky hands I realised the first layer of trousers were around my thighs. I looked around, anybody watching? No, I hurried indoors and burst into tears.
My dad once told me and my sibling a story about one of his ex-girlfriends who was in the military, with only one karate chop my dad found himself face flat on the floor. I laughed so hard that day it was painful! I do not condone violence! But the way he said ‘just one chop and there I was on the floor’! He did not like it one bit! I believe my desire to get into martial arts grew even deeper that day though dad completely shut me down before I could say the word learn.
I backtrack a bit. Getting well enough for the doctor to discharge me, throughout the 3 year period I was an outpatient. About 6 months later I was handed a leaflet as I walked around town offering a month’s free Kung Fu sessions, you decide afterward if you want to carry on. Exactly what I needed and wanted as I was too scared and embarrassed to go back to dancing.
Spurred on by these experiences and full of passion, I came back fit and stronger pulling some of my experiences and skills together I created my own style of African Dance Workout and with my psychology training to support others with ‘balancing body, mental health, and a healed heart’
Bio: Birmingham based choreographer, performance artist, personal trainers and artistic director of New Dance Scopes, a dance theatre and a fitness company found in 2015. I teach dance and health and fitness in schools and various other educational settings in and around the Birmingham.
I have worked nationally and internationally with various companies including Utopia theatre and some of my own projects include ‘Okun’ a multimedia solo dance piece, trio ‘The Tatula Clan’ from a self-authored play ‘Lillie’s On Water’.
Until present I was running my bi-monthly ‘African Dance Workout Event’ within the community, the resident African dance workout tutor at the DanceXchange, Hippodrome.