Adeyemo-Fasuyi: Art has given me happiness, joy
It’S a muggy afternoon. Kehinde Adeyemo-Fasuyi wipes her face with handkerchief. She motions to her aide, who has been helping her with running errands. In another life, Kehinde Adeyemo-Fasuyi would still have loved to be an artiste.
“Starting out as a professional artiste my goals were simple and one step at a time kind of goal(s),” she says, sitting in a single chair in her office.
As a dancer, she has travelled extensively round Nigeria, Africa, Europe, Canada, the U.S. and Americas. Wherever she performs, the crowd goes wild. Watching her dance is like watching poetry in motion, it is always so captivating.
But she is a very organised and there’s little doubt she has a professional streak. “When I achieve one goal, I set another. I wanted to be the best at what I do and to do that, I realised that I needed more than talent and a school-leaving certificate to achieve that goal. In those days, your talent was not enough; you needed to have a form of tertiary education. So, I went to Obafemi Awolowo University, where I studied drama and music,” she says.
With a mix of practiced tolerance and respect, the dance artiste reveals, “next step for me was to travel the world with my art. So, I joined Femi Kuti’s band as a dancer but as fate would have it, that wasn’t my ticket to travel the world.”
While she was with Femi’s band, she heard about Professor Wole Soyinka’s audition for his new play, King Baabu, which was going on a world tour.
The lady says, “keeping my fingers crossed, never in my wildest dream did I think Prof. was going to pick me as one of the actors for the play. You can imagine my shock and delight when a couple of weeks later — still performing at the shrine — I was told that I was successful in the audition. That was one dream that I didn’t allow myself to indulge in that came to fruition.”
Kehinde says, leaning against the inside wall of her office, “me? Picked to act and be directed by none other than Kongi himself. It was the peak of my professional aspirations. Little did I know then that I was going to work with him again.”
Not only was it the peak of her career as an actor, “it was challenging and, in fact, brought out the best in me. I never knew I had that ability as an actor. I ended up playing six different roles — both male and female — because the play itself should have been performed with nothing less than a 100 actors, but as it was going on a world tour, it was streamlined to 15 actors. It was an all hands on deck kind of performance and we had actors and crew from Switzerland, France and Nigeria. At a point, I was on stilts until it was decided that only one person should use the stilt. It was exhilarating.”
The co-founder of Osa Meji Entertainment and Ibeji Group, a company that teaches African and Nigerian dances says, “after that, the next step was achieving the same recognition as a dancer. So, my twin sister and I joined King Sunny Ade’s band and he took us round the world. Performing with KSA, Baba Ibeji, as we fondly called him, was electrifying. I learnt a lot from him.”
Over two decade after, she has achieved every goal and more. “My twin sister and I founded two companies Oosa Meji Entertainment and Ibeji Group, and a television show ‘T and K in da Mix’. Our music nearing completion; songs in CD recorded, website created,” she reveals.
The most influencing thing she learnt in OAU, which has stood her in good stead, “is discipline and the ability to think outside the box.”
Kehinde, aside from dancing and singing, teaches Nigerian languages. She is fluent in Igbo and Yoruba languages, which she teaches on radio. She is an interpreter and she teaches people how to sew Yoruba traditional attire.
How impactful has been the National Troupe experience?
“The National Theatre is a citadel for Nigerian culture and working with the National Troupe exposed me to Nigerian cultures in a way that is impactful. Being assistant coordinator for National Troupe’s children creative station was a wonderful experience for me,” she breathes.
Having worked with King Sunny Ade, Sir Shina Peters, Femi Kuti, and Pasuma has broadened her dance scope and increased her versatility as a dancer — When it comes to dance and its interpretation of the different genre of music. School she says, “teaches the basic of dance practice and exposure teaches the rest.”
The look on her face was comely. She flashes the look: joy, happiness. She shakes her head as she was asked what was the best thing that ever happened to her. “It is being married to an artiste. It makes it a lot easier to still practice what I love,” she says.
“The only way I am able to do what I do being as busy as I have been and still able to keep my home going is that I married my soul mate who also happens to be an artiste. When he travels, I keep the home; when I travel, he keeps the home. We balance each other and the fact that he is an artiste makes it all simpler. When you get a job you don’t have to explain too much because, most of the time he got you the job or asked you to audition for it, so he already knows the details of it,” she concludes.
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