Updated: Jul 11, 2021
When the pressure becomes high, the backlash becomes unbearable and the zeal to keep on pursuing your first love seems to be fading away. Do you give up? Well, Esther Ekwale is one who is rising above all odds to continue her passion for dancing. She speaks about how the dance industry and social media has opened doors of opportunities and helped her develop a thick skin.
I’m a graduate of Finance and Economics from Widener University. I currently reside in the United States and I dance as means of expression and fun.
Dance means everything to me. I can’t count how many times dance has saved me from depression, sadness, boredom, and breakup. It's my lifesaver, and I can't do without it. That's my addiction.
Ever since I was little, everyone around me, especially my family knew I loved to dance. However, as I got into primary and secondary school, I began to get more recognition for my talent. So I was in plays, musical and dance performances. From Atilogu—an Igbo cultural dance—to contemporary dance, to… you name it. Esther was there in flesh and blood. Honestly, I decided to go pro when my parents didn’t have the funds at a certain point to further my education. So I sat down and said to myself, ‘How can I make money if I’m going to end up being a dropout?' The only thing I knew I had the strength to do and not back down was DANCE. And that’s how it all started back in 2017.
When asked to describe her dance style, here's what she had to say.
Ómooo! I belong to the streets! Anybody that doesn’t love street vibes is dulling. I’ve always been a big fan of street vibes ever since I was a little girl—at the age of 5. My late uncle who passed away loved listening to music a lot. So a lot of my passion for music and dance stems from throwbacks from music heavyweights like African China, 2 Face, Dagrin, Daddy Shoki, and others. My late uncle is partly the reason I started dancing. Let’s just say he was a vibe!
I used to be shy, dancing on the street. It just took me baby steps from being comfortable with dancing in front of my siblings; then I moved on to friends; then I moved on to my friends’ friends; then I grew the confidence to move outside. Honestly, if you want something bad you'll make room for it and improve on those weaknesses that are hindering you from exceeding your greatness and full potential. Also, your mind is powerful and can create images or pictures of things that aren’t real. Block your mind and just do it.
To dancers out there who were like me, I would say that it's going to be hard at first, if you're shy and don't know how to go about it. But it's you just taking the time and making the effort to just be out there that makes you who you truly are. Just take those baby steps today and thank me later!
To be honest we live in a broken system. Sometimes most people don’t have the privilege to educate themselves further on history and the culture of our people. I find it funny that Africans know a lot more about the history and culture of other countries, but they fail to do the same theirs. Nevertheless, I’d say a lot of movements are happening currently that trigger people to know and learn more about Africa, its
many cultures and people.
Every time I dance in a public area I'm either being recorded by other people, or they watch and then reach out to ask me questions regarding where I’m from, and how much they’ll love to visit Nigeria or taste our food. So those little moments I get to spend with strangers bring them closer to the culture and who we are as Africans.
Watching dancers execute their moves with so much passion, fluidity, and precision could almost make viewers almost forget that what looks so easy on-screen is not so easy off-screen, as each dance step is birthed from creativity and constant practice. And so it is only natural for dancers to run out of ideas and experience a creative slowdown in their choreography. Esther talks about her creative slowdowns and how she handles them.
Omo, I dey experience slow down 99.9999999%! I might be exaggerating, but I can guarantee you that it's 90% of the time. I try so much to dance like other people and sometimes I want to switch up my style and it's just a depressing process to be making choreographies. I have colleagues that do choreography in under 10 minutes, and for me, it can take 2-3 days. That's why I don't mostly collaborate on the spot; they’ve got to tell me in advance. But if I can't move past a choreography at the moment, I usually just vibe to it in my room. It's not a do or die thing for me. I just want to have fun, as Badboytimz said.
When it comes to dancing, my idols are...Damn, this is a hard question but I'll give a big shootout to all the dancers out there from every part of the world. You guys go crazy! But I dey craze a lot of Nigerian and Ghanaian dancers. Nigerians own the street vibes hands down, and I hope I get the opportunity to collaborate with a lot of the dancers that I’ve networked with that are basically in the industry, doing it big. Ghanaians on the other hand just give me that vim and fun vibes. It’s always happy vibes with my Ghanaians, and their music is to die for. I can’t get enough! I have other countries I admire as well like Congo and South
As regards, performing artists I would love to work with, it is My homeboy Tekno for the win. I've always been a big fan of Tekno. He actually follows me on Twitter, but I’m still trying to build my portfolio before I have enough balls to shoot my shot in the DMs. Why Tekno? Well… because the guy is just vibes. But one person I’m also looking forward to working with is Kare; he’s an upcoming artist with a lot of potential and talent. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to a lot of his unreleased music, and let me be the first to say that we are not ready for such talent. I have ears for good music even though I love street vibes. But Kare brings it all. That’s all I say for now.
In the next five years, I see myself in a pool of pounds and dollars. I can’t have naira in my pool (laughs). But I pray that I’m happy and doing what I love by that time. Maybe in love too; I too like romance as a baby girl that needs to be taken care of (laughs).
When asked to advice emerging talents in the dance industry, whose parents or loved ones don't show support for what they do, here's what she had to say.
If you die today you’re going to regret not doing what you had in mind, because of what people would say. Whether you choose to put yourself out there or not, people will also talk. I’ve been dragged on social media 3 times. Two were relating to dance though, and it was even on Twitter for that matter.
Let me emphasize, Nigerian Twitter! You can just imagine the insults that were being rained on me. But, either way, you go, people will talk. And my point is why not do it? Because the talking from loved ones or family will never stop. And we have to enjoy life to the fullest. Don’t dull yourself; it’s not easy, but as I said, take baby steps and you won’t regret it.