As a male dancer, particularly on this continent (Africa), if you're looking in terms of the contemporary dance, there's always that notion that male dancers are gay or soft. You find yourself having to define these things all the time. While within traditional African dance, it is a strong part of culture and tradition, and it is acceptable. Once you cross into the western form of dance, you get labelled in different ways and your masculinity is somehow interrupted and defined very differently.
And how have you balanced that?
I think my work, in itself, questions these ideas — tradition and patriarchy — that are only acceptable when they fit within one’s ideology. I always question, using my work as the voice that speaks. I fuse traditions with contemporary forms, allowing tradition to not just be the definition of masculinity but be the definition of our country’s battles.
We are battling with understanding our position as males, as humans, within our country. For me, its tapping into that world, allowing my work to be the defining power. If I go onto stage in a dress, I allow the dress to be a vehicle, an aesthetic, the movement itself defines my masculinity.
What advice, in regard to masculinity, would you give to your younger self or younger males?
For anyone who is younger, I would say you have to accept the fact that you have power in your masculinity, but also to accept the fact that you can be fragile within it. You have a space to define your own masculinity, it is not just your muscles or your brain, it is the full understanding of yourself. You have to understand how people relate to each other and to you, which is more powerful than just the definition of masculinity.