Recently I taught my “Get Certified!” course at this year’s Dance Vision Dance Camp in Las Vegas. I was scheduled to examine a couple for their Silver International Latin certification. The dancers expressed concerns about their readiness, so we arranged a meeting.
The couple turned out to be Ukalina Celine Opuwari and Nnamdi Nweke from Lagos, Nigeria. UK and Ice (their nicknames) work for the Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria. There they perform and teach many styles of dance, from ballet to ballroom to hip hop.
During our meeting, I got to know them, their background and their dream of developing ballroom dancing in Nigeria. They shared that one of their greatest obstacles: Nigerian culture is not big on structure. Just to give you an example, here’s what their traffic situation looks like:
So it’s not surprising that Nigerian dance training isn’t structured either. UK and Ice want to grow ballroom dancing in Nigeria the right way—with a program that is organized and thorough.
Excited to support them in their effort, I invited the pair to come train with me in the San Francisco Bay Area before returning to Nigeria. They agreed, took the 14-hour bus ride from Las Vegas to Oakland, and worked with me for an entire week.
At first UK and Ice struggled with the formal ballroom terminology and the detailed amounts of turn, footwork and leads in the dance manual. But, like learning a new language, soon they were speaking the dance elements fluently.
Through this process, their dancing started to clean up, becoming more precise and articulate. They were stunned at the difference studying from a manual made in their dancing. They could clearly see how this would change their teaching methodology as well.
I’m committed to helping UK and Ice establish a systematic way of teaching ballroom dancing in Nigeria. They have seen how empowering studying the dance syllabus and understanding every aspect of a figure can be. While they both have incredible natural ability, charisma, and artistry, they realize these attributes are not enough to excel in the world of Ballroom and Latin dancing.
I respect UK and Ice for their willingness to think in a new way and take on the work to achieve their dream. With their new certifications and pride in their knowledge and accomplishments, I’m confident these two will attain their goal. Keep your eyes out—you’re sure to be seeing more of this dynamic duo! Watch them dance a Rumba here.