Interview / Written by Anne Wanyoike.
Talanta na Kazi: Coastal Region Edition.
The Talanta na Kazi Project funded by the US Embassy Nairobi saw 200+ participants graduate from the Talent Management Course at the Coastal Counties of Kilifi and Mombasa. Mostly due to unsuspected challenges such as the pandemic; it was a journey full of surprises, ups and downs, but most of all, a huge breakthrough. For more information about the project visit our website https://sarakasi.org/talanta-na-kazi/
Since its conclusion in June 2021, we have been following up with some of the participants from the project, to find out how it impacted them, what they have built with the knowledge they have gained from it, and how their lives were transformed as a result. Sit back as we take you on a journey full of stories of hope, impact and transformation.
Rose Muthoni, is a dancer from Mombasa County hopes to take her craft not only outside the Coastal region, but also to extend it to the rest of the world. She shares with Sarakasi’s Anne Wanyoike some of her aspirations and so much more, in an exclusive interview.
Anne: Briefly introduce yourself to us…
Rose: My name is Rose Muthoni, I am 20 years old and I am a professional dancer originally from Mombasa Kenya.
Anne: What is the most outstanding thing that you learnt from Talanta na Kazi?
Rose: I was able to learn about branding and marketing as skills that are very important in curving out a niche for myself (and my dance crew) within the industry. I had never heard about these ideas before I was enrolled at Talanta na Kazi. I am very grateful that you developed a curriculum, modeled for artists like myself.
Anne: Is dance something that you wanted to do growing up?
Rose: Yes, I have been dancing since I was very young, however, I did not have the right avenue to channel my creativity through. Getting an opportunity to sit under the training was an eye opener to me and my colleagues of the Ragz Dance crew, it made us aware of the huge ecosystem that we are all a part of.
Anne: How did the Ragz Dance Crew come about?
Rose: We all met at a gig and we decided to form a crew from then going forward. We have been gigging for about 3 years now.
Anne: How do you keep the group alive and motivated?
Rose: Group dynamics are a tricky subject, especially when we are not aware of the issues that are being dealt with, however because of the training that we got about communication skills amongst ourselves, we ensure that we all know where everyone is at. We try to also support each other through our journey and our professional walk, this makes it easier to work together. It is very key that we keep reminding each other the reason why we are in this, which we often try to do.
Anne: What impact has the training that you got from Talanta na Kazi had on how you do business?
Rose: Well, we attribute a lot of our success to the trainings of the curriculum that we got from the project. When we first started out, the pandemic had just hit and we were really struggling to get booked for shows. However, as we continued to learn the ropes of the industry from the Talanta na Kazi training, we started getting more bookings. We also did not know how to navigate networking and negotiating our worth with clients. We found out that we had been short selling ourselves, prior to the knowledge that was passed to us during the training, which has shifted how we conduct business, package our product and our outlook for the dance industry has completely expanded…for the better.
Anne: Are there challenges that you have faced throughout your trajectory in navigating art business?
Rose: Absolutely. The major challenge that we have had to deal with, is unhealthy competition from other dancers. Clients are finding it easier to give jobs to dancers who can provide the same services as we do, but for a cheaper price. It has been difficult to get our niche and provide that extra value. We thank Sarakasi Trust for empowering us with the information that we needed, because now, our work has shifted from only performance, we are now interested in repackaging ourselves for the various needs of the market, which is a gem that was clearly emphasized to us within our time at the training.
Anne: What’s next for you and Ragz Dance Crew?
Rose: We have a lot lined up. We have been training hard, and we cannot wait to hit the road with some exciting new projects that we’ll be sharing with you in due course. For now, be on the lookout.
Anne: Parting shot…
Rose: On behalf of myself and my dance crew, we are truly grateful to Sarakasi and the US Embassy for putting together such a remarkable project. It has been the absolute joy of my life to be in the presence of all the great minds that we were exposed to, while also being challenged to take our craft to the next level. We made connections and new networks that have been very pivotal in putting ourselves out there.
We thank you for taking a keen interest in artists, and we hope that this kind gesture goes even beyond the coastal region.