Interviews Perfoming Arts

INTERVIEW : ONKWANI FRANK

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Onkwani Frank : “Be true to yourself and your style. Work hard, push your limits always.
Published  Monday, September   28  2020  |  Onkwani Frank   by   theSystem *

Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started with what you do now?

My name is Onkwani frank, but i go by Bboy Frank. I am a Kenyan dance/performing artist.. I’ve been dancing all my life, but i started breaking in 2013 in Kangemi Nairobi.. I grew around Hip hop culture and so it was easy getting in the scene.

How did you get the name Bboy Frank and does it have any other meaning besides the obvious ?

Frank is my given name but for I wanted to honest or true in my movements being “frank” coming correct!

How did you initially get into dancing…… you’ve alluded to have been a dancer your whole life , tell us how and when you decided that dancing is what you were meant to do all this time….

So I started dancing in church and school but i joined my first crew 2009, but professionally I’ve been doing it since 2013.

When you say professionally what does it mean , and can you tell us a bit about that transition from casually dancing and dancing professionally how was that progression?

So professional like I a started earning cash from crew battles and events, the transition was just after high-school in 2012 cause, nikiwa chuo (in school) I was dancing for school events and church concerts.. So 2013 I started seeing opportunities to make cash.. Hence it became work for me.

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#freeze #bboy 📷@uncle_tetsu05

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Is dancing as a career sustainable and what challenges do you face as a professional dancer?

To be honest dance in Kenya doesn’t pay that well. I do IT on the side so for my day is split for the two.
Challenges would be space for practice, events and classes.

What do you think is missing for dance to be a sustainable career in Kenya? and how are you going about personally overcoming the challenges?

First of all a structure for dance in Kenya. A body, a voice for the scene. And investors the scene is still raw and untapped. For me, with my crew (sisko reloaded) we have a community project called “Mviringo”!, where we teach breaking and life skills to kids in low income and remote communities.
We have a breaking academy where we certify our students.
We organize festivals and breaking tournaments annually . This our way of keeping the scene active in Kenya. We have invested in our scene.

What keeps you motivated ?

Sometimes I also ask myself the same question you know many times I wanted to quit.. But this is my purpose! But my achievements, students and crew are my motivation.

You’ve talked about teach young ones and even certifying them , how about you Do you have mentors in the industry who showed you the industry and how to navigate?

Yeah sure, i learnt from older generation from my crew, bboy gitau, bboy mike, bboy vocna.

How would you describe your style and how do you define break-dancing in your own context?

My style is Afro-bboy.. Rooted in African movement but influenced by hiphop. Breaking is an element of hiphop just like graffiti, mceeing and djing.

Is it more of and Art form or a sport?

Its an art since every breaker has there own style and we also communicate with our movements there is no limit to creativity, despite being in the Olympics right now its more of an art than a sport.

Can you breakdown the Afro Bboy style is it some kind of break dance movement from Africa ?

Its a name I coined for my style since a lot of my inspiration is from traditional gusii steps and afro dance fused with foundational breaking moves, I can not call it a movement yet but i see a lot of bboy relating.

So are you trying to make it a movement? or do you just want to keep it as a personal thing?

I am and I would love it to become a movement we need to embrace our culture for is to stand out.

How important is it for dancers to have governing structure , i mean some of you would argue that you’ve been doing okay by yourselves , what would it mean to have a governing body for the art form?

To champion the rights of the artist and scene, set standards, and also we need more dance events and tournaments and for this we need a body instead of depending on brands and media companies.
The scene here is quite young.

How old is the break dancing culture here?

Breaking was famous in the 80’s and 90’s so a lot of people practiced and jammed back then even here in the 254..the history is not well documented, but in terms of competition and breaking events i would say 15 years.

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So in your own way how would you describe the overall dancing scene in Kenya and Africa wide at the moment and what is your vision as far as break dancing in Africa is concerned?

The scene is a level up than it was a while back thanks to some pioneers who made a lot sacrifices for this scene the world is watching.. My vision for Africa is we have an “African scene” more interactions more jams and competition we need that.

Could you shout out to some of those pioneers and tell us a bit about what they did to get us where we are now?

Bboy G founder and pioneers of sisko relaoded and Mviringo bboy. Bboy vocna and mike taught me how to break.

And boneless was the first time I saw breaking at a bamboo music video usilete compe (Don’t bring competition) .

This people have played a big role.
For the scene by teaching and always sharing regardless

What does it take for a person to come up from amateur to a level of professionalism like you?

Love the game, commit to it be dedicated and work hard.

Where do you see your career in the next 5-10 years?

I see myself traveling more, teaching more students winning more battles and also working towards being one of the best bboys in Africa in 5 years.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I’m working with Mviringo as a tutor and administrator.

Also working with akina ties back in. Kisii County teaching girls who have been affected with fgm using dance for therapy.

Also I am working on bboy frank as a brand and my film and editing skills to tell my story.
Also training for the 2024 breaking Olympics.

That’s a lot man how do you balance all that?

I love what i do so i always have time for all this and i meditate a lot to keep my balance.

How important is social media to your journey?

Social media helps me connect with fellow artists share my work Learn and also I’ve gotten some gigs through my posts online 😁. So for sure its hella important.

What is your life philosophy Frank?

We live forever by our deeds and impact to the society. Leave a footprint.

Any advice for someone wanting to make a name for themselves in BBOYing?

Be true to yourself and your style. Work hard, push your limits always.

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