Kukuwa Nuamah Dancing Into Fitness African Style
Her dance company is renknowned in the Washington DC area Jamati Online: As the title mentions you once worked for the World Bank which as we know is a prestigious institution. Why did you decide to start your dance company? I was born with dancing in my blood, no matter what I did, I felt more of a satisfaction in dancing. I knew I could not make a decent living as an artist, just dancing, so I made sure I got my education (in linguistics) before I branched out to start my own dance company. Jamati Online: Being an artist or a creative individual, one might find that society does not quite support you. Did you find this to be the case with your own circle of family and friends and perhaps even former co workers when you went into business for yourself? Yes, especially my fellow African friends. They kept discouraging me [saying] that I could not make a living just dancing. Even my parents advised me to get my education first before going into whatever my heart desired. Jamati Online: Please tell us a bit about your business ‘The Gye Nyame African Cultural Dance Company’? I formed my troupe in the year 2000 when I registered it as a 501(C)3 non-profit organization. I started with my two children, Mame Ekua and Nana Esi, and myself and we used to do all the gigs by ourselves until I found some of my Ghanaian brothers who were home grown, and born drummers, to join me to play the tunes of West Africa, South Africa, East Africa, and Central Africa . I then started hand picking my dancers from my dance aerobics classes from all backgrounds who were good overall dancers, and I started training them in all the disciplines of African dance. To date I have 8 drummers and 12 dancers (which varies from time to time) who form the “Gye Nyame African Cultural Dance Company”. Jamati Online: How did you come up with the overall concept for your dance company? I saw that African dancing and drumming was needed in the African American Community in the USA and I was determined to be a part of making a difference. I knew that there was a lot more Malian, Guinean, and Senegalese dance disciplines brought here to the US and not much of the other parts of Africa . Being a Ghanaian, and a Professor of African dance and culture at the various universities, I saw the need to introduce the rest of the continent of Africa to the community as well. This has proven to be a success and, moreover, a valuable education to the communities at hand. Jamati Online: We at Jamati Online are admirers of African entrepreneurs and to that end, we enjoy reporting the successes of our fellow Africans. What would you say was your most gratifying point as a business owner thus far? Being a minority African woman, I saw my place as an educator to the society and ventured out to use my skills and talents to educate the people, which brings me the most gratitude in life, as I am reaching out and helping people. Jamati Online: What would you say are the pitfalls of owning your own business? I must say owning your own business is not for everyone. It’s been a test of my faith, my patience and my abilities. It takes a lot of money, time and persistence. But once you have been through all this, and can still stand, then you will be successful no doubt. Having the talent or product is not all it takes, it takes a lot of prayers, guts and more guts to overcome the pitfalls in order to make it. Jamati Online: What other type of institutions has your dance company performed at? Gye Nyame has performed at so many venues and continue to do more each month. Here are a few venues: International Children’s Festival-Wolf Trap, MHZ TV Network 8101 Live Show, Walter Reed Hospital for the soldiers, DC Caribbean Carnival, World Bank, IMF, Adams Morgan Day, Desho Productions, Miles Stiebel Productions, Spotlight on the Arts, Varies Universities around the US, Darfur and more benefits. Out of state performances as well. This fall we will be performing at the Kennedy Center . Jamati Online: What type of clientele takes a Gye Nyame dance class? It’s for anybody, anytime, anywhere! Males, females, children and even seniors take our dance classes. It’s for everyone regardless of age and gender. Jamati Online: Do you find that you are helping your clients reach their fitness goals while at the same time teaching them about African culture through your dance routines? Yes, one can read the testimonies of what people say about our classes and what goals they have reached through African dance (you burn 970 fat calories in a 1 hour class). The intensity and the authenticity opens peoples’ minds to another height of fitness all together, as well as opening new doors to the African world for others. Jamati Online: You are definitely an inspiration. I think often times people do not realize their talent or how to articulate it into real opportunities for growth, development or even a career. How have you managed to do that? In other words there may be someone reading this who is stuck in a job that they just are not happy with but can’t see any way out. What advice would you give to them to realize their dream? Talent is a natural thing. It comes without much effort at all. Once you recognize that you are good at something that not everyone else is good at, do not take it for granted, and brush it aside. Capitalize on it and pursue it, if possible. Reach out to people who you know can help you, or ask lots of questions about how to pursue your talent from others who you know have done it already, or have been that route in life. God created everyone with a talent and you just have to be more attentive to recognize it as it’s effortless in nature.
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