‘The Bokwa Beat will be the biggest dance event in Africa’
Michael Sunny, the first certified Bokwa Fitness Instructor is organizing the country’s first ever Bokwa Dance Fitness Festival in West Africa in Lagos that aims to promote a fun, healthy lifestykle among Nigerians. In this interview with TOBI AWODIPE, he reveals what Bokwa is, what attendees should expect at the festival and the dance culture in Nigeria
What is Bokwa all about as you will agree with me, most people might never have heard of this?
Bokwa is a high intense cardio dance fitness activity, making use of letters, numbers and shapes to workout. We employ all the letters of the alphabet from A-Z in this workout.
How does this work?
That is the fun of it to be honest. When you have in in your head that I am doing letter A, or letter E that is the fun of it. This is why I am asking people to come out and see what it is about. This would be the first ever event in Nigeria and I am bringing the originator from the United States of America to show Nigerians what Bokwa is all about. Many people know Zumba and while they have some similarities, they are not the same thing as this uses letters, numbers, shapes and dance steps to make it unique and interesting.
Can you explain a little more for readers what this really entails?
We have the basics of Bokwa, a bounce, bounce, walk forward kick, bounce, bounce, back. Just as the letter E is, that is how you make the movements. No matter the alphabet, you move the way it is shaped with the same sequence of the basics of Bokwa. Once you follow the basics, the rest is simple.
How did you get into Bokwa?
I am a dancer and one time, I went to Lebanon for a Latin dance class and the instructor told me to do Bokwa (he is a Bokwa instructor) and even though I had never heard of it, I tried it and I loved it. I started inquiring on how I could become an instructor and even though I was to leave the next day, I postponed my departure for a month to get certified. I came back to Nigeria and I wasn’t satisfied so I went back to Tunisia to get a BEST Certification, so now, I can boldly say I am a BEST Bokwa tutor.
You mentioned you are a dancer. How lucrative is dancing in Nigeria?
Being a dancer is not easy because till date, dancing is not seen as a serious occupation. People don’t take dancers seriously and think we dropped out of school because we are not gifted educationally or we are never do well’s. For me, it has been a journey of constantly pushing because dance is not big yet in the country, compared to places like Europe and America. However, I believe this would improve with time. Not many are doing well in this industry. I have been dancing for a while, I am into theater, I dance, sing and act and I can tell you many dancers are unsuccessful. We go for events and we are treated poorly except you’re extremely good looking or connected. I want the industry to begin to respect us much more because dance is life and it matters. Without dance, music would not make sense. If you don’t see dancers in any theatre production, it wouldn’t make sense. Dance is very important in the bigger scheme of things.
How would interested people get involved with this festival?
We are having an event on the 17th of this month called the Bokwa Beat at Eko Atlantic. It’s called the Bokwa Beat and it is done in so many countries yearly. This is the first time ever it would hold in Nigeria and if you want to be a part of it, you can get tickets from Aria tickets or get your ticket at the gate on that day. We also have classes in two locations, Lekki and Eric Moore in Surulere. The Surulere classes are held twice weekly while it is held daily in Lekki. You can follow us @Bokwanaija on Instagram for more details.
What will Paul Mavi, the Bokwa originator be bringing to Nigerians at the Bokwa Festival?
He is the originator and I strongly believe he would make people feel the vibe of Bokwa more than I would because he originated it. Even now, when I am taking his classes, I still feel the vibe and this is the energy I want every other person to feel. I want people to see how big this thing is and to see that I didn’t just pull it from the back of my head.
What are some major theatre productions you’ve been in?
I was in Wakaa the Musical (as the military commander), Saro the Musical, Flower the Musical amongst so many others. I have been in so many I can’t even remember. I also act in movies as well. I was in Scarred, The View, Wife Beater and some other major Mnet productions. I dance, sing and act, I am a triple threat. This is not easy to get in the world of theatre but I am proud to say that I am one.
How has being a triple threat worked in your favour?
It has been really helpful to say the truth. For instance, when I go for auditions, instead of picking a dancer, a singer and an actor, they just pick me that can do all three. If you’re a dancer, you will be a good actor because dancing is acting. This gives me an upper hand.
What would you say is the future of dance, would you say it has prospects?
Yes, it does. I have a friend, Michael also bringing a dance workshop from Germany to Nigeria soon. A lot of dance workshops are taking place now, people outside the country are coming for Latin and contemporary dance classes, big things are happening. We have dance T.V online now, 234 Dance T.V, 360 Dance T.V, Dance Farm, Dance City are just among the few that have sprung up. Dance is certainly growing in the country and I see bigger things happening soonest.
What other dance do you do apart from Bokwa?
I do Latin and Ballroom as well as African and Western Contemporary. However, Latin dance is my major forte as that is what I am really known for. I won the 2016 IDO Salsa battle (International Dance Organization) organized by SPAN. African contemporary is a mix of the Zulu dance, the Kwaito, the Bata and the Egwiba from Delta while Western contemporary is a mix of ballet and Jazz.
What should attendees expect from the Bokwa Beat on the 17th?
They should expect what they have never experienced before because they wouldn’t want to stop at the end, everyone will want to keep going. Bokwa is addictive, it helps you lose weight, keep fit and it even makes you smarter, believe it or not. You can lose up to 4000 calories in a single session that is how effective it is. We would also be getting celebrity appearances from Soma and Bally of last year’s Big Brother edition; Bally would be the D.J of the day. Other celebrity fitness enthusiasts would be there as well to motivate attendees on that day.
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