For many people in Uganda, dance is not a profession, and it is mostly associated with entertainment but for a few like Amanda, dance has been life changing.
Amanda Nyakeyo is a Ugandan self-taught dancer and trainer working with schools, arts organizations, and institutions.
She grew up with her mother and like many children, she picked interest in dance at a very young age, imitating every dance move she could come across.
She then got introduced to traditional music and dance programs while in primary school. During her early teenage years and with exposure to TV and YouTube videos, she learnt other contemporary dance moves, and incorporating them into her folk-dance background.
She did not intend to become a dance trainer, but life challenges led her on that path which has eventually transformed her life and built a new dream.
It all started when one day she came out and took centre stage of a dance floor at a wedding party, showcasing her dance moves. She received rousing applause from the amazed and excited audience.
One of those who had seen her creative dance strokes approached her and introduced himself as a music teacher at primary school in Entebbe.
He told her they were looking for a dance teacher to work with students to prepare them for the end of your celebrations.
She was very surprised, excited but confused because she had never given any dance classes. Nevertheless, she accepted the challenge because she needed a job to support her family. She spent two weeks watching a lot of dance tutorials online, preparing herself for this challenge that would later determine the fate of her future.
After two weeks of preparations, she arrived at the school where she was warmly welcomed and led to the location where she would conduct the training sessions, working mostly with the young children ages 6-8.
The children were very excited, quick to learn and fully participatory. Amanda started to make a name for herself around the school, and become an instant celebrity.
Becoming a dance teacher raised Amanda’s confidence and sense of purpose. The goodwill and strong sense of appreciation from parents and students helped to heal much of the emotional challenges she was experiencing.
After the end of year celebration, the school decided to retain her as a full-time dance teacher until the COVID 19 pandemic struck, forcing schools to suspend all programs and close. When the pandemic eased, Amanda started to give part time dance tutoring to various arts organizations in Uganda and virtual dance classes to students in the US.
Through dance, Amanda has got a rare opportunity to connect with global audiences and share a passion that continues to impact the lives of children.
Her work continues to bring smiles onto the faces of many children locally and globally, giving them the confidence to believe in themselves and not let their negative past determine their future. She has beaten all odds to turn a negative past into a beautiful and positive life.