Tag: creative

You are not entitled

You are not entitled

Dear Artist,

You are not entitled

You are not entitled to anything on the mere basis of talent. Your natural gifts do not afford you the pleasures of life without hardwork, passion and commitment, as well as a good attitude.

It’s sad to see how talented artists in Nigeria waste away because they lack one or all of these things.

Now let’s start by acknowledging a few things that serve as a point of justification and defense. Yes, we know that pursuing a career in the arts is tough and takes forever to pay, yes we know you need the money because times are hard and of course, it is understood that perfomers are not given their true worth but guess what; this happens everywhere in the world, movies have sold you gloss but the truth is, the struggle is real every where.

This doesn’t give you right of passage because you have it tough. Everything good in life comes with huge sacrifices that have to be paid. Those that excel are the ones that understand this, your gift is to be honed, shared and given freely before you can receive. Like a seed sown into the soil, you must wrestle with the sand to bloom like a flower.

Sadly, many an artist want to just become the flower without going through process. ‘Hian!’

If that were the case, everyone ought to have ‘hammered’ by now. But let’s not digress.

Talent is not enough, this can’t be overly emphasized . All talent gives you is a head start, you have to put in the work, go the extra mile to make something of it and succeed. If you claim to have passion for the talent God has freely given to you, then you have to have the discipline to train and hone it to perfection, the humility to learn from others and serve and the patience and commitment towards becoming the best version  of you.

No one can motivate you but you and the people you choose to look up to. Age is not a factor to consider when looking for a teacher or a mentor, experience and expertise is.

You must learn to maximize your strengths and daily grow and learn by outsourcing your weaknesses. Chei! Grammar!

Here’s what I mean: So you think you can dance right, baddest Naija lyrical hiphop dancer ever liveth etc etc but you suck at Naija styles and you know you need to learn. Pick the closest person to you with that skill, swallow a huge drop of humility and learn. Learn till you are as badass as your teacher or good enough to continue on your own. If you believe in value exchange, when you’re done learning, offer to teach your baddest hiphop too. Win, win for all.

Your attitude to work and opportunities determine how far you go as an artist. But first you need to have your priorities in check, if money is your inspiration then this isn’t particularly for you, but if your goal is artistry, mastering your craft, teaching it to people and creating a body of work exportable to any country in the world, then listen up.

You have to pay in time, service and your own funds to grow. Pay for training, volunteer to perform at platforms that will give you the kind of visibility you want and work with people who can move you forward.

READ! Artists seem to hate this word, not all but quite alot. You have to do research to grow, you can’t just rely on what you know. The internet is your friend but are you using it to your advantage?

Attitude. Every human being has an ego. Artists seem to blessed with robes of ego laced with pride and a crown of rudeness. *pauses for effect*

It’s the hard cold truth but we forget that these things do not help us and when displayed, only belittle us and what we have to offer.

People do not patronise pride, it doesn’t pay the bills and it is a bad investment but if that is what comes with your art then you will deprive yourself of greatness. The truth is a bitter pill to swallow but we must see it for what it is, the truth.

As artists we are too sensitive, too quick to take offence or be on the defensive. Too quick to judge but we hate criticism. Creating ‘beef’ that can feed a nation because you don’t want to be told what to do. Here’s my question, ‘ Who E EPP?’ At the end of the day, work is work and play is play, if you can’t tell the difference then, it’s your problem to deal with and nobody else’s.

On a lighter yet serious note, in order to be taken seriously in an industry of this nature, you must respect yourself and work ten times harder than anyone else. Throw your heart and soul into it, fight for what you love. It’s a harsh environment to live in, Nigeria that is, and it isn’t as conducive or structured enough for the arts industry yet but let that not become the excuse to do a sloppy job. Work your butt off and become the best, you may have been unappreciated and treated wrongly but never let it break you but build you.

Your response to your situation determines how far you go in life. So don’t give up, this art will pay if you put in the work and you will never regret pursuing your passion.

This comes from a place of truth, we would never grow without it

Yours,

An artist

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My 2016: Mima

I am not particularly great at recollecting things of the past but I will try.

I started this year less prepared than I usually do, I was distracted by what seemed like cupid’s arrow but like I said, what “seemed”.

Anyway that is a story for the gods.

Thankfully, I had already visualized and written what I wanted for the new year as the previous year was winding up, so I had a guide that made things easier for my mind to identify the path to follow.

I am a workaholic and as usual all my plans were work related. Some of my goals for the year were to network more, collaborate and amplify the dance art produced by Krump Studios, grow the dancers I work with through exposure, showcase dance in different forms and challenge Dancers here in the North.

As part of that plan I came up with The Creative series:  Love & Jazz, For the love of hip hop, Omo Naija and Expressions of The Soul and a plan to send at least 3 of my staff for dance training in the United states.

With all those plans laid out, I still had unfinished business from 2015 so I started the year with “Abuja Choreographers’ ball” a competition to award young choreographers in Abuja and environs. The event had been moved from December 2015 to January 2016. The event held but I wasn’t satisfied with it. I realized even more after the event that there was a huge gap and a lot of dancers had little or no knowledge of the art of choreography here in Nigeria; with that I knew more inspiration and exposure was needed in these parts.

February, March and April came and so did the failed application for visas for my dancers as well as  fairly successful shows ; ‘Love and Jazz’, ‘For the love of hip-hop’ and ‘Omo naija’ and with this, my dance family grew in the midst of this wonderful experiences.

In February, I also began my second successful collaborative work with The Poet, Dike Chukwumerije and in the course of the year, we ran two more shows (September & December in Lagos).

From February to the month of May, I had experiences that showed me I still had a lot to learn on how to go about projects.

In April through June, I collaborated with my friend Qudus on his institute project in partnership with The German embassy and the French institute. The project aimed to create a unique dance production in Abuja City as well as have trainings for dancers .

Training for my dancers was a huge part of my goal and eventually I forged into pouring out myself towards ‘Expressions of the soul’ which was performed in August.

 In the midst of all the challenges and the financial setbacks towards the show, I guess I did something right with that one because I got awesome reviews and the attendance was Ok.

I also know it was an amazing experience for my dancers and team and I got the opportunity once again to collaborate with great people.

Another experience I had this year was hiring a Manager for my Studio, after 5 years of filling the position myself at the detriment of my personal career and creativity. I knew it was about time to take this step but it turned out to be an epic failure, the decision wasn’t bad just the lack of qualified candidates.

That goal is still yet to be achieved!

As a manager, it was an even more challenging experience managing people and resources in the year of “Recession” especially when very few individuals stand for anything other than money. There were times I secretly wished someone would come and buy my company so that I could run away and just go dance and choreograph.                       Thankfully, I am creatively finding a way to run a studio and be an Artistic Director, Dancer & Choreographer at the same time.

Not to turn my reflection to an advert or anythimg but I do believee I didn’t do half bad with my managerial planning either because Krump Studios will also be starting classes in Lagos come January 2017.

Well I ended the year also having the opportunity to meet with other choreographers from different parts on the continent and Europe at The Dance Africa Dance festival at Ouagadougou, got an invite to attend from the French institute in the bid to build on my network for future choreographic work and it was indeed an eye opener.

I would say not everything we desire comes the way we imagine them to come, it may come with challenges and may come in a different way and it may even take a lot from you but looking back at 2016…

I achieved 85% of my goals; organised (alongside an awesome team) all our planned events RAW, FIT 2 DANCE FIT 2 LIVE etc. I finished my Creative series with the Krump Team, I networked and had collaborations with wonderful people (DIKE CHUKWUMERIJE, QUDUS ONIKEKU, GERMAN EMBASSY, INSTITUT FRANCIA NIGERIA, ABUJA COLOUR BLAST, TRUE DANCE ART,3JS HOTEL E.TC)

I was able to organise workshops and collaborative trainings with Local and International Teachers that inspired dancers and I wasn’t left out of the loop this time, I was inspired too and I began to dance and create again.

As a bonus to the year, I even got elected as the Director for Duties for the Dance Guild of Nigeria; which I consider a privilege and an opportunity to help more dancers.

I even made my first painting this year .

I am not sure I have documented my 2016 so well however, one thing I can say is  in 2016 I gained a lot of valuable experiences and information, too much to process all at once.

I still have so much to learn but I am thankful I know how I can proceed in the coming year. I am glad we ended the year with smiles at Krump Studios.

I look forward to 2017 with an ease.
Have a wonderful New year.

Mima