Kundai Marunya Lifestyle Writer
Old and new weddings have a lot in common. It is the symphony, the deft and fancy footwork, the food and dressing that forever carve imagery and leave memory imprints. When all is done, all should be said for many years to come. Each person will certainly have his or her own narrative from the wedding.
For some it’s the classy decorations and clothing designs donned by the bridal team. For some the food; but entertaining guests in dance at a wedding reception sums up a memorable day for all.
Bridal teams spend hours on end, months even, rehearsing the catchy dances that would introduce those tying the knot to friends and relatives.
They rehearse their feet off for the follow up dances that will captivate guest who come to celebrate the wedding party.
In the past, it was usually that one family member known for their “sick” moves who were called upon to coin the wedding dances, and for months they would dedicate their time to coach the bridal team to master sleek moves they hope would leave a lasting impression to those in attendance.
As weddings increasingly became a competition of class and elegance, choreographers have been roped in to coin the best of dances that well express the happiness exuded by the happy couple, and their team whose jobs are to help them express their joy.
These are mostly drawn from seasoned dancers and dance choreographers, depending on one’s budget.
For many high profile weddings in Zimbabwe names such as John Cole, and Silva Shonhiwa easily ring on many lips.
These are professional dancers who represent the country on many platforms, coin dances for many occasions including for music videos, concerts and stage performances.
They, however, take their time to help choreograph for various weddings and get paid big for their troubles.
John Cole, who is known by many for his choreography of Ammara Brown and Tytan’s “Mukoko” video, has over 500 weddings under his belt.
“I have a company Wedding Dance Specialists that concentrates solely on wedding choreography. Last year I touched 500 milestone weddings,” said Cole.
Cole charges an equivalent of US$ 28 per hour.
“I am paid per session which are usually two hours long. People are different some require longer hours to catch on the dances but we usually do 10 sessions per wedding,” he said.
Cole has worked with several celebrities on their weddings including Ba Shupi, and popular businessman Tatenda Choruwa of Sky Holdings.
“I have choreographed over 50 celebrity weddings but I cannot disclose who they are due to our contractual agreements,” he said.
Word of his greatness in wedding choreography has reached far and wide, aiding him in landing many clients in the diaspora.
“I service many clients both at home and in the diaspora. Marketing is usually through referrals from happy couples.
“Some diaspora couples fly me to wherever they are based. Some who will be tying the note home will work with me intensively a few weeks before their weddings,” said Cole.
“With South African based clients I’m usually flown there and spend weekends rehearsing with them.”
For Shonhiwa it is the love of dance that drives him, financial benefits coming in as a bonus.
Shonhiwa, professionally, is a beat-boy (b-boy) dancer who has won various competitions and teaches dance at the Jibilika Dance Academy.
He is currently an adjudicator at Jibilika Dance Festival preliminaries that are being held in Botswana.
“Money aside, there is a fulfilment that comes with seeing people happy, enjoying themselves with their family and friends after tying the knot.
“Dance is a large part of that celebration and expression of happiness that’s why I enjoy choreographing weddings. Money comes as a bonus,” he said.
Though weddings are a celebration of new unions, many people are making a business off them.
Wedding planners often work with choreographers as much as they work with florists, photographers, videographers and cake makers among others team members that make up a perfect wedding.
Some dancers have gone on to solely focus on wedding choreography.
Such is the case of Tendai Mutisi, a celebrated dancer who once represented the country regionally but has since retired from competitive dance to focus on wedding choreography.
“I had my fair share of dance competitions, won quite a few. The problem with solely relying on them as a dancer is you put in a lot of money on your stage dressing, spend hours rehearsing but you only get paid if you win. Thus a loss means all the investment was for nothing,” she said.
“With weddings you are guaranteed payment for every bit of effort and time invested.”
Mutisi a qualified accountant serves at least four clients at a given time thus committing full-time to wedding choreography.
“At first I worked as an accountant with wedding choreography coming as a part time engagement.
“I then realized that I can make five times more choreographing than I do as an accountant so I took it on full-time two years ago,” she said.
“I am happier choreographing, it’s fun and I love it.”
Wedding choreography is highly competitive. Choreographers have to always be in touch with trending dance moves so as to incorporate them when they coin their routines.
They work for hours on end, first on their own as they perfect moves, then with the bridal team some of whom find it hard to master dances.
It is a
profession that requires a lot of hard work and patience, but is very rewarding both financially and by the sheer joy of good expression of a satisfied customer.