Swapping finance for ballet: A dancer’s passion for the art

Evelyne Mukashyaka is a ballet dancer who consistently charms with her performances. Her dedication allows her to have an unusual skill. 

Regardless of her talent, however, she never dreamt that dancing would be her livelihood someday. It was at the age of 15 that she took her first balletic steps and since then, dancing has formed a big part of her life. 

 

Over the years, she has come to discover that dancing, especially ballet dance, calls for so much ‘bravery’ that one has to lay themselves bare to bring out the best in it. 

 

As a ballerina and a dance instructor, she describes ballet as a form of dance with an element of physicality and powerful impulse. 

 

“Ballet dancing normally is for the purpose of expressing an idea or emotion. It’s being able to express yourself emotionally and also, discover other sides of yourself that you may not usually be able to discover ordinarily,” the 29-year-old says.

Becoming a ballerina 

Ballet is said to be a combination of choreography and art, scenic design, lighting, costume, graceful movements and usually solemn music. It is an artistic dance like no other that can be used to express different emotions or to tell a story.

For Mukashyaka, joining this field was more of an impulse that pushed her into joining dance as a career. This happened 14 years ago when she joined a group called Passionate Ambassador, a gospel dance group that mostly performed modern dance (contemporary).

Her passion grew with each day that even after graduating from university in 2015 in accounting and finance, she still had her attention on dancing as her preferred profession. 

She then joined MindLeaps, an organisation that uses dance to improve the cognitive abilities of vulnerable children as it prepares them for a stable life in school or in a working environment.

It didn’t take long before Mukashyaka revealed not only a remarkable gift for ballet, but also an outstanding drive.

“When I finished training, my life completely changed. I completely fell in love with dancing and when I teach it, I do it with all of my heart,” she discloses.

To her, dance is therapy, “It is a form of treatment that heals. When I dance, I feel like a bird in the air, I feel like an angel and I feel happier when I am dancing. I just love to dance and I love doing choreography as well.”

However, she reveals that her prowess didn’t come on a silver platter. She says she had to work twice as hard to be skilled and outstanding as a dancer.

“It’s not easy to get past the fears of performing for an audience. Also, training to become a good ballet dancer is physically demanding. It calls for so many hours of rehearsal and doing a lot of training,” she notes.

Growth in career 

Her passion and skill has presented her with endless opportunities. She now teaches dance with different non-government organisations as well as different schools.

She teaches different dance styles such as ballet, contemporary, acrobatics, tap, Jazz and hip-hop. Her students are mostly aged three to 20 and above.

Following certain specifics, Mukashyaka says certain guidelines have to be followed to ensure that her students get the most of their dance classes. 

With a lesson plan, music and speaker, her dance classes are always good to go.

“With each class, our lessons take two hours or less but with three year to five year olds, we only take 45 minutes. Students have to be in dance costumes and I have to prepare for the class accordingly,” she says.

For one to become a good ballet dancer, Mukashyaka says it calls for determination because the skill doesn’t come over night.

“It takes time and effort. You need to keep practicing over and over if you want to turn out as a great dancer,” she advises.

She observes that a number of people tend to value dance less as a profession noting that this impression should change, however.  

“Dancing as a profession means a lot, it helps connect with people and is also a form of art that creates and tells stories. Through dancing, I give back what I have to society, besides it pays me as a career,” she adds.

dmbabazi@newtimesrwanda.com

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