The first story of the AfriKera spotlight series features recent AfriKera graduate Dexter Mushore aka Dekede (as he is affectionately called by his colleagues at AfriKera). He shares his inspiring story.
As 17-year-old Dexter stood in traditional dance class during his first week at AfriKera, oscillating between nursing an injury and wrestling it- he doubted whether he could get through the first week of class. A few months earlier, he had faced another dilemma, honoring his family’s wish for him to pursue a mechanical engineering degree in Canada or staying in Zimbabwe to pursue dance, his true passion. As he stood on the dance floor that day in April 2017, the decision to walk away seemed more appealing, but he chose to stay.
“[I thought] I’ve always wanted to dance, so why not, let me just try.” says Dexter, explaining his decision to stay on.
Dexter’s was a unique case; he joined a pre-existing class owing to his background in dance. After artist and friend Tsitsi Tizora introduced him to AfriKera Director Soukaina M-L Edom, she assured him that he would catch on just fine. However, with a background in traditional dance and hip-hop, Soukaina, forewarned him that he would need to stretch himself more, and accustom to multiple dance genres, to become a well-rounded dancer.
In Dexter’s case, pain and gain were two sides of the same coin, something that would go on to characterize his student career, a journey marred with several lessons:
1. EVERY HOUSE HAS ITS RULES.
The first thing Soukaina introduced him to were the rules and regulations of the AfriKera zone. He quickly awakened to the fact that he would need to adjust to meet the expectations of his new home.
“I read through everything and I read it again, I read it almost every week, and I was like, now I know what I need to do”
2. ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Dexter had to pay attention to detail, in order to catch on and to avoid lagging further behind. Not withstanding that his was a unique case, because he joined a pre-existing intake, expectations were higher. While his previous basketball injury attempted to slow him down, he pushed himself, amidst advise from his teachers that he needed to “work intelligently,” with his injury.
3. NO PAIN, NO GAIN
Dexter shied away from wearing a knee guard for fear of being the weakest link in the troupe. Unbeknown to him that another challenged awaited him; he was involved in another accident with a mini-bus a week short of the AfriKera 2018 HIFA performance. He couldn’t hide his limp for long and was advised to sit it out but, he resisted. He performed the HIFA set, but his injury worsened, resulting in a doctor’s order for an 8-week bed rest.
“I now had to put extra effort. I almost quit again, with a few months to graduation.,” says Dexter.
In October 2018, AfriKera was part of a Hivos collaborative project with Creative Garage – Nairobi Kenya, and Bluez Café/ Nhimbe Trust – Bulawayo on the theme: Freedom of expression. Because Dexter was showing interest and taking it upon himself to rehearse and learn the creation with the professionals for AfriKera Dance Theatre (ADT), Soukaina included him as a company apprentice in the piece titled: Iva Zvauri, choreographed by Maylene Chenjerai and Soukaina also as the Artistic Director/ producer.
Today, he is an official member of the AfriKera Dance Theatre Company.
A year later, in July 2019, Dexter graduated and received his Dance Diploma.
As graduation came and he received his certificate, Dexter thought to himself, “I’m done with school, what now?”
A month later, one of his teachers Tatenda Chabarwa aka TC, approached him to perform a duet for the upcoming Mafuwe festival in August 2019, a partnership that extended to other festivals, Starlight Dancing and Mitambo International Theatre Festival in October 2019.
Looking back at his journey, Dexter bagged his Diploma, topped with priceless life lessons.
“My AfriKera journey never ends. This is the beginning of a new chapter. one page was closed and it is time to take on the new challenge. I have learnt a lot at AfriKera and hopefully, I’ll keep learning as the journey extends and [I] manage to grow as a professional artist in this industry.”