Ghanaians help youth discover future through dancing

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Members of the Dance With a Purpose (DWP) Academy rehearse in Accra, capital of Ghana, March 10, 2022. Dance With a Purpose (DWP) Academy in Accra, Ghanaian capital, dedicates three sessions each week to coaching young talented dancers in various moves of African beats and rhythms to become top-class dancers. (Photo by Seth/Xinhua)
Members of the Dance With a Purpose (DWP) Academy rehearse in Accra, capital of Ghana, March 10, 2022. Dance With a Purpose (DWP) Academy in Accra, Ghanaian capital, dedicates three sessions each week to coaching young talented dancers in various moves of African beats and rhythms to become top-class dancers. (Photo by Seth/Xinhua)

When three friends in Ghana settled on dancing as a career, their aim was not just to dance on the stage and make an income but to change the dance culture by injecting more professionalism into the profession, to make it more attractive and competitive.

Lloyd Annor Konadu, Ernest Kwablah, and Nicholas Botchwey started the Dance With a Purpose (DWP) Academy in 2017.

The dance school, located in the Lizy Sports Complex in East Legon, one of the plush residential areas in the Ghanaian capital, dedicates three sessions each week to coaching young talented dancers of different ages with diverse backgrounds in various moves of African beats and rhythms to become top-class dancers.

“We decided to share with young people, who, after watching our videos so many times on Instagram, developed a love for dancing and wanted to take it up as a career,” said Konadu.

Besides the School of Performing Arts at the University of Ghana, Legon, DWP emerged as the pioneer in seeking to deepen the African dance culture through grooming young dancers to adopt a professional approach to dancing.

“Our main agenda is to change the perception about the dancing profession and guide those interested in dancing to make careers out of it,” added Konadu.
DWP is not only about dancing but also an opportunity for young people to be inspired to develop their career paths and life goals.

“I believe when we give these young people the platform and guide them, they can find their purpose and live it. Some of them can rap, some can act, but they haven’t realized it, so we guide them to discover these potentials,” he stated.

Four years after setting up DWP, the efforts of the three co-founders are beginning to yield dividends as they watch some of their mentees excel on stage, having groomed more than 200 dancers already.

“Most of these 200 students are not just dancing. DWP is about dancing with a purpose, so when you come here, we teach you about dancing and teach you to focus on your life’s goals as well,” said Botchwey.

Some of the dancers from DWP now do brand placement, endorsement, brand ambassadorial roles, movie acting, and other gigs to make income for themselves.

“The dance culture needs to be preserved because it also serves as a major source of income for Ghana’s tourism revenue. Sometimes when visitors to Ghana want to learn about our culture, we go to showcase Afro-pop to them as part of the package,” Botchwey added.

Agyapong Derrek Asare, a nurse in Ghana’s health sector, found a second career as a dancer through the efforts of DWP. He combined his nursing training at Ho, the Volta Regional capital, with dancing rehearsals while in school. Today, Asare works both as a nurse and also a stage dancer.

“I came out of school successfully and started working at the Tema General Hospital. But I have paused the nursing job a little to focus on dancing. I will go back into nursing after pushing my dancing career a bit further because there is a lot I can do with dancing,” Asare told Xinhua.

“I have been in many music videos, including with DopeNation and Darkovibes, two popular Ghanaian musical groups, and made some good money.

I performed on stage during the African festival, Afrochella here in Ghana, and during the Ghana Music Awards. But I have not done any international show yet, and that is what I am praying for,” he added.

Richel Achempim, who goes by the stage name Energy goddess, is an accounting student at the University of Ghana, and a member of the DWP.

“My parents initially found it difficult to accept my choice of dancing as a profession due to the perception that dancing was for school drop-outs and street children. But I decided to prove them wrong. My results came, and I did well, so my parents began to appreciate the profession,” the young female dancer told Xinhua.

In addition to performing on the Afrochella stage, Achiempim has also appeared in several music videos with other artists.

“I want to become one of the best female dancers in the world. But there are not many female dancers to inspire others. The number is smaller than the males, so if I put in my all, with more energy and get to the top, the younger ones coming up would look up to me for inspiration,” she added.

Ernest Kwablah, also a co-founder of DWP, said social media had helped project their work.

“Now, you can be anywhere in the world and see something on social media and appreciate it. Social media and hard work are what has gotten us here,” he said.

The modest successes so far, notwithstanding, Kwablah said the team was not complacent as there are bigger dreams for the future.

“We are a success already because we have changed lives and have taken people off the streets. The future is about having our infrastructure, as a school where people can come from different countries to stay and learn from us,” he said.

“We do not want the situation where after this crop of dancers grows old, the next generation of dancers would not have people to look up to, so DWP will ensure that what we have started lives on. So we want to preserve the dance culture over several generations,” added Kwablah. Enditem

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