Catching up with renowned dancer Stanley Mareka
• By Rosalia David
WITH a dream to grow the music industry and elevate aspiring budding dancers across the country, award winning dancer Stanley Mareka -better known as African Cobra- is seeking funds to turn around his dance academy, which is currently rebranding.
In a one-on-one interview with Confidente (RD), Mareka (SM) gives a glimpse on some of the projects he has been working on while outlining some of the industry challenges.
RD: In 2008, you won the Channel O Dance Africa competition and established your own dance group, what has the African Cobra been up to?
SM: I am busy writing modules so far I am done with three of the study guides which I am testing through College of the Arts and Namibia Film School.
National Theatre of Namibia already welcomed me and we partnered up during their workshop programme and I featured with my new book called ‘Increasing your repertoire as a dancer and choreographer’.
My aim and objectives are to analyse Namibian traditional dance regime and incorporate it with contemporary art.
Namibian cultural rhymes are unique and the world doesn’t know this potential.
Now I am busy giving a workshop to N/aankusé village kids and teens, helping them to catch up with the urban lifestyle and how to integrate their craft.
I am also looking for funds to help me pay rent for my academy for me to officially teach ages of five till 35 years about the curriculum I created and focus on aspects of Namibian cultural rhythm.
RD: When you are not dancing, what else do you do?
SM: I am also a musician finding my own rhythm.
I recently released a song about Covid-19 called Covid Anthem ‘KOKO-RONA CONFIDENCE’.
RD: How would you say dancing has been for you so far?
SM: Ever since we rebranded, it has been amazing and through dancing I founded Equipped Performance Arts and Activations.
My hairstyle represents my cultural beliefs and makes me unique.
Currently, I am working towards launching a school in 2022.
There are a few challenges such as contributions to help me pay the academy’s rent for a year which could allow me to integrate Namibian cultural diversities. We are behind time and I feel I can help the industry but I don’t have the resources
I am using my own money that I teach or perform with to pay rent to educate others. However, I cannot stop because the youth is looking up to me. And I want leave a legacy of someone taking over that is younger and wiser for the industry.
RD: How long have you been in the music industry?
SM: Ever since 1999 (12 years of age), it is not an easy industry to be part of but I guess my wise thinking and friendliness helped work through life.
After a few years, I opened Equipped in 2002 with Moria my best friend; we launched it publicly in 2012. Moria and I later agreed that he should rather further his studies instead of investing time in dancing as he was doing well in school.
From 2015 to 2019, I studied in Germany for Corporate Activations and Arts Integration through Performance Arts and Dance.
I then returned to Namibia to upgrade and add value to the curriculum of the Performance Arts Industry and assist institutions with passionate innovations and education.
Next year I am relaunching my academy under a new name.
RD: What are some of the lessons you learnt through travelling outside the country?
SM: When you tour around the world you get to meet people that read your body differently. Many complimented me on my speed, skin tone, energy, laughter and flexibility something we hardly do over here.
We need to start complimenting each other more to build each other’s confidence. There is absolute nothing wrong with giving a compliment out loud to somebody else, you will be surprised about what it does.
These encouragements and compliments made me find the true beast of art.