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Written by Tatenda Kanengoni

Rayne Chiramba walked into his first Anatomy class at AfriKera Arts Trust in 2018 clad in baggy jeans, a far cry from the “appeal” of the multifaceted dancer the institution was nurturing. He rubbed his classmates the wrong way in the Ballroom Dance class attracting snide remarks and asked himself for a moment, how he was going to survive this next chapter of his life.

“I was wondering what was going on, I was stepping on my [dance] partner’s toes and she even complained to the teacher, I was just embarrassing myself left, right and centre.” 

From the moment he had a conviction that his life’s purpose would be aligned with dance nothing else made sense to Rayne, in fact, going back to his childhood years, dance was always present in one form or another.

The Chiramba family holidays were characterised by dancing, loads of it, picture the sight of adorable kids busting moves while the adults applaud in awe. 

A few years into his childhood during the Digital Video Disc (DVD) era, Rayne’s outlook on dance shifted when his sister handed him DVDs of a trending dance film.

“My sister brought home some movies, Step Up 1 and Step Up 2 and the moment I watched those movies, my perspective of dance changed. I thought to myself, “I would want to be like those guys, one day.” 

Rayne also spent time consuming the powerful visuals from Michael Jackson’s Thriller album and the dance bug hit even more. He started practicing dance, oblivious to any technique, only feeding off the feeling of euphoria that the art form brought upon him. While he immersed himself in his newly discovered passion, a tenant from their cottage mentioned an event at Hatfield Girls High School in Harare and he begged his sister to tag along and found himself on stage.

“I was really shy and didn’t want to go…I covered my eyes so I could only see the edge of the stage.” he said

In that moment, he got a taste of what it is like to entertain a crowd and when his parents enrolled him at Falcon College for high school in Bulawayo, it was not long before he became part of a dance crew called The Raptors, serving as director and choreographer. The group performed in the school hall during events and his participation in the arts including contributing to the choreography for the “Shrek” school play bagged him half colours for Drama and a certificate of excellence for all round performance and a cultural award.

The decision for what to pursue after high school was a toss between Architecture, Basketball and Dance and Dance emerged the front runner. 

“I was looking into schools [and] I was going to be an Architect, but I didn’t want to sit down in an office from Monday to Friday when I knew I could do something big like dance, basketball or music. I was doing research on schools and I would find schools in Europe, Australia as well that offered really expensive dance courses.” 

“It was going to be a pain to go to my parents and ask them, after six years of sacrifice taking me to Falcon, for school fees to pay for flights to Australia [etc])

While he continued his search for a school, he participated in performance projects including featuring in a movie called Love and Dance. Around this time, one of his friends mentioned AfriKera Arts Trust, which was offering a Professional Dance Diploma.

“I went to AfriKera and they were a week into the 3-week audition. The director Soukaina told me if I want to join the class, I would have to join immediately. At that time, the students were in the anatomy class.”

“I was dragged about the clothes I was wearing. I was wearing baggy clothes; I was really into hip hop at that time.” he said

His first few months at AfriKera were “really intense” but he persevered.

“As someone who had come late for the audition, I had to prove that I wanted to be here and I worked so hard because in my mind, I was telling myself I am behind everyone else but to my surprise when we completed the first exams, I actually came out top of the class.”

Rayne continued to soar, he developed his dance technique much to the contentment of his instructors and he was placed in a leadership role in his third year. One thing he loved was the versatility of the classes they took and looked forward to the world of possibilities that awaited him upon graduation.

“AfriKera put me in a position where I was more than well equipped for achieving anything that I wanted to achieve in dance. The best thing was that it was so diverse, I was not restricted to hip hop only, I learned ballet, traditional, ballroom, jazz, capoeira, classical Indian etc.”

As graduation approached in October 2021, AfriKera founder and Director Soukaina M-L Edom organised a job for Rayne at the French School, where he serves as the hip-hop teacher.

“This was my first source of income.” he chuckled

Rayne has gone on to achieve other strides including receiving a merit in the Royal Academy of Dance exam for Ballet and he is currently studying for the Advanced 1 Ballet exam. Rayne’s Ballet mistress from AfriKera Miss Faye Jackson, who had guided him through the exams noticed his teaching potential and referred him to the Grange Christian School where he is working as the nursery school Ballet instructor. In addition, he is also teaching private Ballet classes in Chisipite. Under his stage name Xray the Jaggrevade, Rayne also runs a dance collective that produces performance pieces, dance videos, as well as documentaries

Rayne Chiramba is taking over the Dance world, and there is no stopping him. Asked what inspires him to be a dancer and to what he owes his achievements, Rayne simply says “endurance is what propelled me to come this far.”

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