Nadege Rusamaza does not recall her life without dance as the common feature. Dance for her is more than just a mere term.
“It’s like a lifestyle. It has been my best friend, and a way of therapy because you cannot dance and stay sad. Dance brings people together, reduces anxiety and depression.
“I grew up in a family that loved dance so much and they used to take me to dance competitions when I was young. I danced everywhere and forced everybody to dance at parties,” she recalls.
Two years ago, she began pursuing her passion professionally when she set up her own dance studio at Cercle Sportif de Kigali, to share her fun and exercise experience through dance.
“Dance is a way of working out. I don’t run, I don’t go to the gym, or play any ball games, so if it weren’t for dance I wouldn’t be fit right now. I wanted to share this experience after I realised how powerful dance is and help people who do not like going to the gym or run,” she says.
The dancer and choreographer during the interview at The New Times offices. Photo by Willy Mucyo
Before the pandemic struck, Rusamaza received about 20 dance students on average and has done dance sessions for corporate companies.
“At first I ran and trained at the studio alone, before getting two other partners to help manage with the growing number of clients. I wanted people to feel comfortable since people don’t learn at the same speed.
“Setting up the studio was a bit scary in the beginning because I didn’t know if people would come, or if they came, whether they would enjoy it. I was worried and scared but then I remembered my favourite quote, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Right now I know how happy and proud people are after a dance session and that is the only thing that keeps me going,” she says.
Dance as it is today
About the progress of dance, the 23-year-old dancer and choreographer is happy that people are starting to see dance classes as something worthy of their time and money.
Rusamaza training during her dance classes. Her goal is to help as many people understand the benefits of dance. /Courtesy photos
“People now actually pay money to join dance classes. Even though I haven’t yet earned enough money from my passion, that wasn’t my main goal. I just wanted to empower the young generation, especially girls, that they can be whatever they want to be.
“We have many talented female dancers but they are somehow shy. Starting my dance studio was my way of showing girls that they can be a million things, and that if they are doing it the right way, nothing can stop them,” she says.
As an all-round dancer and choreographer, she trains in all kinds of dance to cater for everyone and make it more fun. Her favourite genre is, however, afro-beat and dancehall which she believes reflect her personality.
“I am friendly because I can vibe with anyone, kids and my age mates. Dancing with people and training them, therefore helps me understand people more. People also say I’m funny which I think enables me to make people comfortable and happy when introducing them to new forms of dance. Some of them come to the studio feeling shy but I always assure them anyone can dance.”
Drawing inspiration from UK-based Rwandan dancer and choreographer, Sherrie Silver, she hopes to also achieve much and inspire many others through dance.
As such, with the studio obviously closed due to the pandemic, she is currently doing dance sessions and choreography and posting them on her social media pages, to encourage young people to dance more.
“There are so many young people that are idle out there, so they can take the time to practice some of my dance moves and exercise their bodies,” she says.
For Rusamaza, who doubles as a receptionist, working out and having fun at the same time is a whole package. Her main goal for the future, therefore, is “to help as many people as possible realise the benefits of dance and help them get better.”Follow https://twitter.com/SharonKMugabo