Low pay forces dancers into trashy life

HARARE - When Bulawayo dance group Casablanca relocated to Harare three years ago in anticipation of lucrative deals in the “city of dreams”, things turned for the worse.

The group discovered that it was not just a stroll in the park, worse still with those seeking their services offering peanuts.

Casablanca is not the only showbiz dance group finding it hard to break into big time contracts. Others like Malaika, Madness Style and Extra Hot are in a similar situation, where they perform long hours and get little.

Harpers Mapimhidze of Dancers Association of Zimbabwe said some of the dancing groups are living a life of trash.

 “Most of these groups live a pathetic life; you cannot imagine a situation where more than 10 dancers share a room,” he said.

 “Some of the groups which are made up of both men and women end up living as spouses because of poverty,” said Mapimhidze.

 Mapimhidze, who also manages the most celebrated dance group — the Sexy Angels fronted by the slim and raunchy Beverly Sibanda or simply Bev, says only well-known groups in Harare are surviving solely on dancing.

“The current situation only supports few popular dance groups such as Bev and Zoey Sifelani,” he said.

 Loraine Ncube, the 26-year-old Casablanca director, declined to shed more light on the plight of members in her group. But her group members and colleagues said life was not rosy for the group.

 Liliosa Dube, a member of Extra Hot said they came from Bulawayo in 2007 and have been living in Harare’s Dzivaresekwa suburb.

“We are paid as little as $40 per show and we usually perform six days-a-week. That money is not sufficient to cater for our basic needs; moreso pay monthly expenses like rent and rates,” she said.

Dube said they had since discovered they could make more money if they performed in smaller towns outside Harare.

If her group is not hired for a week, it means the outfit will be in serious financial problems.

“We are surviving from hand to mouth, hence no week should pass without a performance,” she said.

The low wages within the dance industry have led to most female dancers easily falling prey to their male audience who pay them for sex.

 Four Angels dance group manager, Cosmas Ziwande,  said “immorality” is high in the showbiz and entertainment industries because of low pay.

 “Joint owners pay the least for our good services, leaving dancers without an option but to prostitute to augment the meagre wages,” he said.

 He said dancers are caught between hard rock and a hard place.

 “Not everyone wants to be a dancer but the situation compels them to. Most of those who turn to dancing would either have failed in other career fields and therefore resort to dancing,” said Ziwande. - Vasco Chaya and Bryn Gumbo

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