Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Telling a story with your body

Originally published at Amaphiko Redbull
Ugandan local Faisal Mostrixx has made a name for himself by expertly fusing traditional tribal dance moves with contemporary hip hop. He explains what dance means in Uganda and why his work as a teacher, mentor and choreographer is making a difference.



BY Kieran Yates on 
Ugandan local Faisal Mostrixx has made a name for himself by expertly fusing traditional tribal dance moves with contemporary hip hop. He explains what dance means in Uganda and why his work as a teacher, mentor and choreographer is making a difference.
Dance needs a lot of patience and hard work, and back home we lack a lot of facilities. You can practise on the grass, and we have a few studios. Young people see me and are inspired but how do you give back when you don’t have rehearsal space? In the end, it’s about the love of it, and the connection. I go and teach for free and I meet these people because I know they might take something from me. These are not just moves: they teach us a way of living and about different kind of people from different backgrounds.

I started dancing when I was nine. I was very active in music, dance and drama in school in Uganda. It’s been a part of me and my family. My mum used to take me to traditional dance practice all the time so it has been with me since I was a kid.

People call me ‘Mostrixx’ because I have the most tricks! I try to pick from different dance styles and then evolve it to make it my own. They also call me the ‘crazy dancer’!
Right now, the biggest dance that is practised in Uganda is the breakdance. Someone takes what they love, gives it to another person who gives it to another person, so we all end up working together. The reason is because of the social power of it and people work together to teach each other.

Music and dance are two powerful elements. I’m very driven by the music and inspired by the sound. I’m a beat maker too so I’m very inspired by the texture of music. My background as a dancer is very intricate and about speed - how fast can you move to the floor and back? It’s all about moving with the texture of the music. It has an emotion behind it that can inspire the body or the mind to go into certain worlds.

I love watching people dance with African rhythms with contemporary hip hop. It takes me back to where I come from. When the two meet it is magical. In Africa, we have a variety of traditional dance styles with a lot of background and story behind them. I think it’s important to fuse them because I come from a land that has over 50 tribes and each of those have at least five traditional dances, with many elements and motifs and rhythms. For me to pick them and put them into contemporary is something new and unique.
“I run free classes in Uganda because these are not just moves. They show us a way of living and they teach us about different people from different backgrounds”
Dancing makes me feel like I’m young all the time. It makes me feel that I get connected with other souls and other people’s stories. It takes away the stress. It makes my day fresh and new every time.

I remember when I was around 10 and the teacher would go out of the classroom, I would jump out in front of the class and entertain the people. What I’m trying to show with my body, as a dance teacher, or a mover, or a choreographer, is my story. When I first came out and said that I wanted to be a dancer, my family were like, ‘No, you have to be an engineer’. Parents tell their kids these things back home, they say ‘this isn’t a job’. Now, when I travel, I don’t feel alone, I feel like my community back home are with me.

I’m in love with Uganda. The youth are so motivated with the arts, across painting, singing, music. I also hope to see a professional community of professional dancers because in Uganda, everyone can dance. I want to see parents empowering children to fulfil their dreams because we have a lot to say. We have a story to tell.
Faizal Mostrixx was at ImPulsTanz international festival of dance in Vienna. Find out more about Faizal here

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