By Matilda Nzioki
Last year just about this time, Sisko Dancers found themselves on stage, together with a few other street dance crews waiting with bated breath for the winner to be announced.
It was during the first Malta Guiness Street Dance Africa auditions, and as fate would have it, they narrowly missed clinching the top spot and had to painfully content themselves with the first runners up position.
Nonetheless, it was the beginning of a journey full of hard work and toil, whose fruits they finally reaped at the second Malta Guiness Street Dance Africa. "We had anticipated victory, because since coming number two last year, we made rigorous practice, determination and discipline," said their group leader 21-year-old Winston Kiarie. He added that their being in touch with the streets made them better at street dancing than other competing groups. "Si ni wasee wa ghetto kutoka Ungem , We are from ghettos of Kangemi, so we are familiar with the basics of hip-hop and street dance," he said. One of the judges Wini Nkinda (formerly of Boomba Gals) agrees said, "On top of skill, mad energy and power moves, Sisko displayed ‘streetness,’ which is almost the only thing that Saintz, the group which became number two, lacked."
Apart from winning the chance to represent Kenya at the international finals to be held in Nairobi in September this year, they walked away with a cash prize of Sh400, 000. "This money would not have come at a better time," said Kiarie, who explained how they struggled to find a venue for practicing among other needs. "We are all hustling to raise money for further education, not to mention that we recently got chased from the hall we used to use for practice," he said and added that giving tithe and charity is also among their priorities in terms of how they will spend the money.
Sisko, comprising 12 members, started out seven years ago with only four members. When they are not on a show, they sharpen their dancing skills through aerobics, gym workouts, and practice. Winston Kiarie (21), Paul Njoroge (21) George Ritho (21) Andrew Kimani (21) Eric Gitau(24) and Benjamin Wafuko (21) are the members who participated in the street dance competition.
Last year’s winners, Dashy Dancers, were in the house and having been there and done that, urged the winners to step up their game for the international competition. "Firstly, competition in Africa alone is extremely stiff and secondly, this year’s national winners are going straight to the international level, unlike last year, where an African representative had to be chosen to attend the finals in London," Irene Karanja aka RenÈe of Dashy explained.
Sisko on the other hand say they have been watching some of the best street dancers worldwide on the internet, and are positive they will do well in the finals, especially due to the fact that they will be competing on home ground. Dashy say that Kenya lacks qualified instructors, hence have to mostly rely on music videos.
Regional marketing manager for Malta Guiness UK-based Nyimpini Mabunda said the benefits for the winner include top class choreography. .
About 12 crews of six dancers each auditioned in front of a live audience at KICC, and were chosen on elimination basis by a panel of judges consisting of Wini Nkinda, Moses ‘Qqu’ Odhiambo (of N.I.X) and Boneless. They included Outsyders, Sawala, Impact Group and UGK from Mombasa. Although less turnout was registered compared to last year, the dancers seemed more professional with more attention paid to costume and design. Unique and dramatic dance styles were also showcased.
And as the day came to an end, Sisko were on the same stage they stood last year with the same group that knocked them out then, only that this time they (Dashy) were handing over the trophy to them (Sisko) and their blessings as they face Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Singapore, Holland, USA and France in September.