Here is an excerpt from an interview we had exactly a year ago with the late dancer and choreographer Lynsey Lynn who sadly passed away yesterday. We shall give you a follow up tribute article.
By Tafadzwa Gambiza
We can not talk of the 21st century Zimbabwean dance industry without mentioning Lynsey Lynn real name Lynsey Chenai Mambwere (nee Nyamakwenje) who is arguably one of the most consistent dancers. We managed to link up with Lynn and we had the following conversation with her, all things dance.
Q:: I can safely say that you have greatly shaped the dance industry. We are still trying to build the industry. What are some of the changes that you have seen from your early days till today?
A:: There is an increase in the number of dancers who are taking dance seriously as their career or profession and not just a hobby or part-time thing. There is also an increase in the number of female dancers. Dancers are using digital platforms more. There are now more collaborations. Back then just being too friendly to someone from a rival crew used to cause problems.
Q:: Are female dancers of the 21st century still facing some form of stigma from society as it was back in the old days?
A:: Yes, they are. Believe it or not. It is getting better but we still have a long way to go.
Q:: You are a strong activist of gender equality and female empowerment. Are female dancers getting enough support or we still have a lot of work to put in? Are their voices being heard?
A:: Their voices are now being heard but a lot of female dancers still don’t have the courage to put themselves out there and speak out or stand for what they believe in or value. You can only be heard if you are saying something.
We generally have a lot of work to put in in terms of supporting dance in general in Zim but more so for females than males.
Q:: Let’s talk about your next chapter. You got married to Sean Mambwere who is also a dancer and choreographer. You guys choreographed your own wedding. Which sparked joy and surprise all over the industry with over 2 million views. How was the feeling?
A:: The feeling is inexplicable. It is always amazing to do what you love with the one you love and share that joy with friends and family. We greatly appreciate the support that we have been getting.
Q:: The new generation has its own style of dance. Tik Tok has greatly impacted the new generation. Does this style of dance have any negative effects to the schooled dancers?
A:: I don’t think that it has a negative effect. Everything has its own perfect setting and where it belongs. Tik Tok videos are mainly for entertainment and growing your following. At the end of the day, you will have to dance according to the occasion (15sec chores won’t cut it or live performances or productions or competitions).
Q:: You have traveled so many times. What have you seen that we should quickly adapt to uplift our industry ??
A:: There are so many things.
• Learn from each other and collaborate more (you can never reach the level where you stop learning).
• Professionalism (planning, punctuality, time management, how we handle clients, how we carry ourselves in public, etc).
• Investing in our craft
• Setting standards as an industry (so many dancers don’t know how to value themselves and are taken advantage of. If there were set standards it would help them).
• Need more dance schools
We should value ourselves first before we expect everyone else to value dance.
Q:: You have more than 15 000 subscribers on YouTube, which is very hard to get in Zimbabwe. What are the advantages for a dance to have a strong and stable social media presence?
A:: You never know who gets to look at your work. It’s easier to get gigs because you are always in their feeds. With social media, your clientele is not limited to locals only. Whenever you approach someone or someone approaches you all you have to do is to send links (your work will speak for itself). You can generate an income from your social media.
Q:: You have been on a number of stages and you have worked with a number of artists. Some dancers complain that they get paid peanuts after a project. Do you face the same as well ?
A:: I have had my fair share of such experiences and I learned from them. A number of things lead to such experiences. If you don’t value your work or make the artist see your value you will get peanuts. If the quality of your work is poor you will get peanuts.
Q:: You have successfully managed to develop yourself as a brand. Professionalism lacks in some dancers. Some dancers ignore business workshops thinking that it has nothing to do with their craft. What can be done to educate these dancers?
A:: Keep on hosting the workshops. It may take time but at some point, they will realize that even with better skills some dancers have an advantage over them because of the knowledge they get from these workshops.
Supporting others doesn’t dim your light.
Q:: Any last words to other dancers?
A:: You can never reach a level where you no longer need to learn. Invest in your craft. Know who you are, what you stand for and value your work.