GABORONE, BOTSWANA — Gone are the days when careers were only limited to one becoming a teacher, doctor, nurse, police officer or simply becoming a civil servant. Nowadays we see an influx of professional vocations one can pursue and make bank.
Whilst the African mentality in the past shunned careers in music, dancing and the arts in general, today we see more and more of our people sustainably taking up these livelihoods thus carving their own golden niche. One such person is a vivacious young lady, Samantha Claire who continues to establish her own dancing career, a job which currently puts bread on her family table after quitting her plum pharmaceutical job.
Speaking to #botswanaunplugged on the side-lines during the just ended Grand Palm Hotel’s Wedding Expo where she was exhibiting her services through her company Samantha Claire Dance, Claire was born to Zimbabwean parents and has lived in Botswana since she was 9 years old, becoming a naturalised Motswana over time.
Though she started dancing with Botswana’s renowned dance group, Mophato Dance Theatre – a local group that has performed in Germany, Norway and USA among others, Claire decided to become solo and initiated her own dance academy. Privy to many dancing categories, Claire has now become a professional and versatile dancer in the last 5 years.
“I have been dancing part time and normally when we had productions overseas I will seek leave to go and it was always difficult so I had reached a decision where I wanted to master my dancing hence the decision to quit my pharmaceutical job. As a human being I have targets and there comes a time when I want to live for a purpose, challenge myself and become a better person,” she said.
Although it was always visible that her career in the pharmaceutical field was not going to be her forte, Claire is not your usual regular dancer who learnt the moves through passion but instead spent time in class to understand dancing both professionally and financially.
“I am a professional dancer. I graduated with a Degree in Social Development and Dance in 2012, Hons in African Studies in 2014 at the University of Cape Town in South Africa respectively. As a creative director, choreographer and dance instructor I have been holding various dance workshops, and the last one was in Harare, Zimbabwe and I also want to look into penetrating the RSA market.”
“The last big project I did here in Botswana was the country’s 52nd Independence celebrations where I managed and directed over 500 dancers that always parade and perform certain drills alongside Botswana Defence Force (BDF) soldiers to the amusement of the country’s president, government dignitaries and other well-wishers, including Batswana in general in 2018 which was extremely exciting. So it has been a good one so far. I have two prominent weddings in RSA that I am choreographing in April. Also in Gaborone I have Dance Master Classes that I do and the reception has been outstanding”.
Furthermore and emblematic to a dynamite coming in small packages, the diminutive Claire has bigger plans as she intends to use dancing as a new tool to change mind-sets in the work place. She has already partnered with some big local brands to incorporate dancing in business development.
“We have to push brands through our creativity in their businesses. There is a campaign we did for a certain client using dance as a marketing tool and it received higher ratings. I see this project going very far; as a creative what pushes you daily is the assurance you give daily that arts is a profitable career too. Digital media has also made the world too small so I see myself in an international stage soon. I want to groom other dancers and make this very profitable.”
Committed to dancing, Claire draws her courage from within the local dancing sphere especially all the dancers who are making a living from their craft such as Gala Mosweu and Bokamoso Morekisi just to name a few. In terms of drive and worth ethic, Mophato Dance Theatre’s senior dancer, Lone Motsumi is always her inspiration while regionally she looks up to the likes of Sne Mbatha and Sarabi Mphande and internationally, Galen Hooks respectively.