Durban heat is back! Underground Zone Dance League is no stranger to the Durban dance scene and aims to change the way events in Durban are held in the sunny city forever.
A league that spans across the entire year pushing dancers to constantly be on top of their game.
Catering to all Hip-Hop dance styles such as B-boying, Freestyle, Locking and Krump etc, the competition gives dancers from Durban the opportunity to showcase their skills and represent their unique styles in the finals.
Could the introduction of dance leagues change how we perceive dancing?
We caught up with Yogi, a dancer and event organizer for the Underground Zone Dance League to gain some insight.
Firstly, introduce yourself.
“My name is Yongama Mbonwa, and I go by the name of “YOGI the ARTST” aka “Raw Wave”. I am one of the 1st international dance students in DURBAN South Africa, mentored and taught by KID Tight Eyez aka BIGWAVE (Germany). I have represented Durban city in the EUROPEAN BUCK SESSIONS (Germany) pre-selection tournament held in Joburg city in 2012, that was hosted by the creator of krump dancing himself TIGHT EYEZ (USA). I was recruited in the same year to be part of Street Kingdom South Africa that is also led by TIGHT EYEZ (USA). I am a Father an entrepreneur, a part time stylist, an Artist and a choreographer”
What crew do you represent?
“Street Kingdom South Africa”
How did you come about the whole Underground Zone Dance League?
“It grew out of frustration whereby I noticed that dancers had no assurance of financial security and people were leaving rapidly to follow other career paths. I had to think of a way to stop this from happening and try to find solutions whereby we could create a circulation of economy rotating within the street dance culture.”
“I wanted to create something that could unite all dance styles and give street dancing a voice and perhaps attract the sponsors and partners we need to create consistent opportunities for dancers. That is how the league then came about; based on the premise of creating a future and a platform for us South Africans.”
How much success have you faced so far doing this?
“Our first season was certainly a success; we managed to draw in over 500 people at our finale we hosted in December 2015. We hosted 5 events in total with artists such as Dope Artist, Aewon wolf, Breeze the trendsetter and Tony Taylor attending the event. We also got to showcase our dancers at the Durban Food Street Festival with Swagger Wear who played a huge role in supporting and helping us present the event to the public.”
What is the aim behind the event?
“We aim to create work, internships and exchange programs for dancers and creatives who wish to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. The underground zone dance league is a segment and platform that has been created to bring in skills and resources to help develop dancers and impact the dance movement positively. We aim to use these skills and facilities to encourage dancers to be effective in their communities and set a new standard for dance in Durban and SA by showcasing their talent to attract more sponsors and event organizers.”
How has the dance culture evolved in Durban?
“Dance in Durban has shifted from being just a hobby or something that we do after school to an emerging industry. You’ll find mainly young working adults and teenagers who are the most active participants in the dance scene. The amount of work and techniques that goes into the various street dance styles demands a lot of time into practicing. There are now more opportunities for dancers to live off their craft and this has encouraged more sponsors and organizers including musicians to now hire and consider street dancers for work due to the level of skill that’s here in the country. These opportunities help keep the culture alive and push new limits and boundaries for dancers in SA”
As a dancer do you believe that the League could become a national event where by dancers from all over SA could eventually come to Durban and be a part of?
“Yes, I do believe and see the Underground Zone as a national league, YODA which is the dance agency working together with the Youth Alive Foundation that produces the event aims to facilitate the league throughout the continent. We seek to unite African dancers through the league and sharing their stories to the rest of the world. With the right sponsors supporting this event and with the help of dancers in the country, we are confident about establishing a dance league that will create work opportunities for our local dancers and will help with the development of the next generation of dancers.”
Lastly, some words of motivation to the next generation out there.
“As an independent entrepreneur and artist who has been through most of the hip hop dance waves in Durban and South Africa, my observation about dance and about the industry is that many of our dancers fail to believe in themselves, and by that, I mean they hold back from putting themselves out there publicly and to the right people that could take their career to the next level. If you want to be the person you envision yourself being in the South African dance industry one must be open to meeting new people and practice habits of positivity that will infiltrate in your work and working relationships. Don’t give up and enjoy what you do so it never feels like a job.”