“It’s not about how many times you fall or get something wrong, it’s about how you react, and what steps you take to get yourself back up.” says Kadafi Mulula in this insightful Q&A.
Apprentice Company Dancer, Kadafi, is the first dance artist to be employed by Company Chameleon in a new two-year paid apprenticeship programme introduced by Chameleon this year.
Created to support the next generation of dance artists, the position is an opportunity for young artists of all backgrounds to learn, train and grow whilst working within a professional dance company.
Here Kadafi tells us more.
Hey Kadafi, you are four months into the role as Apprentice Company Dancer at Company Chameleon, how’s it going so far?
To be honest it’s going amazing so far! The experience and knowledge I’ve gained has been eye opening, not only within performing and training but within so much more. Networking and taking part in meetings, team and youth dance activities, and assisting with teaching. There is also so much learning in observing the two Co-Directors, Kevin and Anthony, and seeing how the professional dancers teach and lead within sessions.
What does your week involve and look like? Take us through it.
Getting to the studio at 9:30am to be well prepared for professional class at 10am. Class 10am until 11:30. After that, the Company gives us a 30-minute break leading up to noon. Then 12-14:00 we are into company rehearsals either for a piece for upcoming performance opportunity or a creative process for a new piece.
14:00 until 15:00 is lunch. Then 15:00 until 18:00 is back to rehearsals. When there are Chameleon Youth rehearsals on a Monday and Tuesday evening, you’re expected to stay back and assist on either of those evening sessions. On a Monday, rehearsals in the afternoon start at 17:00, so all the dancers have time to plan the classes that they are teaching in the next week.
What are the biggest things you have learnt so far?
To always take feedback in a positive manner as it comes from a place to help you strive and be the best version of yourself as a performer and as an individual.
Always be prepared for adaptation, versatility and have an open mind.
Be kind, friendly and approachable to artists outside of the Company as that’s what makes Company Chameleon one-of-a-kind.
Hearing positive feedback about your performance is amazing and the audience loving what you do it’s always lovely to hear.
However, hearing feedback that says you’re a nice genuine person to work with and to be around, is so much more heart-warming and gives you an amazing feeling.
What are you enjoying most? Tell us about the high points.
Improving every day, training constantly and seeing the results of my continuous training process. I believe the work you put in feels hard sometimes and you will be aching and it’s sometimes frustrating. But the results are so satisfying, and hard work doesn’t get unnoticed.
Also, I deeply love travelling across the UK and internationally abroad with the Company and performing in so many different locations in which I would never ever thought I’d perform! Hearing the claps and cheering from the audience, after all the hard work you’ve put in, is amazing.
What do you find most challenging?
I have severe dyslexia and dyspraxia and I find a lot of things hard within rehearsal, preparing for performances and time management. I also struggle with flexibility. Therefore, I take more time to do stretches and execute yoga videos so that in the long-term my flexibility will hopefully turn into a strength!
I didn’t start dance training until later, so I sometimes struggle with technique and coming from an athletic sports background, I’ve had to adapt my body. Learning techniques such as ballet, Cunningham and floor work are giving me the foundation and structure to make sense of my body as a dancer and also develop a new movement language.
What advice would you give to young people who are thinking about a career in dance?
To always strive for your dreams. Train to be as versatile as possible. Always have a strong mindset and have a passion in what you want.
Go for every opportunity that is given to you, small or big, volunteering or unpaid, as it can open up new opportunities with different artists within the industry.
In just one conversation, you can start networking within the dance industry. One conversation could lead to an opportunity or platform just by you letting yourself be heard.
When the going gets tough and you feel you can’t give no more, always remind yourself why you started this journey in the first place.
I always tell myself this because when you’re at a point that your body is aching, sore, bruised up and your brain is fried from so much information. Then that’s where your journey, your passion and your character get tested.
It’s not about how many times you get put down, it’s about how you react and what steps you take to get yourself back up. How resilient you choose to be and overall showing how much you want it.
That’s the advice I would give to the next generation trying to pursue a career within the dance performance industry!
If you’re age 21+, passionate about dance and you can demonstrate a high level of commitment to your dance training and development so far, then click here to find out more about our Apprentice Company Dancer role. We are currently recruiting with auditions take place in January 2023.
Main image: Emily Cramby
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