The Profile: Manzi Mbaya Abdoul Hakim

Manzi Mbaya Abdoul Hakim (born July 4, 1995) is Rwandan dancer, actor and choreographer who is known for his dance videos on YouTube. His dance genres include HipHop, Poppin’, Locking, Contemporary and House. He is a former member of Krest Crew (one of the best dance groups in Rwanda) but he is currently working as a freelance dancer.

EARLY LIFE

Mbaya was born and raised in Kigali, Nyamirambo. He started dancing at the age of 14 where he made a dance video “Jerk.” This video inspired the youth very much back then. In 2011, he met Krest Crew and he started discovering another world of dancing. He saw new dance styles like Poppin’, Krump, Locking; Hip Hop in general. He worked with Krest Crew until 2013. They encountered various challenges, as they contested in many competitions but were unable to succeed. However, they did not falter, they fought on.


In 2013, Mbaya met Ishyo Art Center and there he learned the arts and skills with different artists and workshops. He worked with Walter Hull (Houston Urban Dance Company, USA) in a Contemporary Dance Workshop. Through this workshop, he was noticed by Mashirika Group; he worked with them and that was his first time on a professional stage.

During this year, Manzi Mbaya won the Akadiho Dance Award of the Best Dance Video. He made this video with Krest Crew before he became a professional dancer.

In the year that followed (2014), Manzi worked with Pervez the Legendary in a Bboy workshop. Pervez the Legendary is one of the people who started Bboy in England.

Moreover, Mbaya won his second trophy of the Best dance video by HIGH SCHOOL IDOL which was the video cover of “All of me” and another one (3rd trophy) of Best dancer of the year 2014 by Intaganzwa Group awards.

Check it out on the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T0u6xu23aI

The journey continued to the year of 2015, where Krest Crew, Mbaya among them, entered a dance competition called “On Stage,” and this time Krest Crew was the runner up (2nd place). This was an epic moment to Manzi. He said, “This accomplishment meant a lot to me because we had been struggling for a long time then. We weren’t the winners of the competition, but it was epic.

Furthermore, he received his 4th trophy of the Best Dance Video by High School Idol; a featuring video with Afro Casa called “Dance ni Dange.”

Check it out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPCIFaNYHOs

DANCING CAREER

Manzi Mbaya started working on a professional level in 2016. He decided to not stay in his Hip Hop background in order to explore more. He said, in an extended interview, that he had always loved theater but this time Manzi Mbaya stepped up and participated in Ubumuntu Art Festival 2016, in the process piece called “Safe.” This piece was directed by Mokhallad Rasem. For this work, he received a certificate.

Ubumuntu Arts Festival 2016; Manzi dancing the piece called "Safe"

Later in 2016, Manzi went to Uganda to participate in Batalo East International Festival; he and his friend Christian Hirwa (Krest Crew) represented Rwanda in a Hip Hop piece called "Two Brothers meet with a same Passion." In this Festival, they attended Batalo East Academy 2016 “Intensive Classes.” The participants were given Master Classes in traditional and urban dance styles focusing on Pedagory of Dance, Technique, Conditioning and Choreography.

Batalo East International Festival; Manzi in a dance battle

A few months later, he participated in another workshop; East African Night of Tolerance (EANT) Professional Dance and Choreography Workshop. This workshop was prepared by Amizero Dance Kompagnie, Directed by Wesley Ruzibiza.

Right after the above workshop, Manzi met Mani Martin, a Rwandan music artist. Since then, they had been working together. Mbaya is Mani Martin’s Dance Instructor of his entire album “Afro.” So far, one song “Afro” was made. Manzi appointed dancers and choreographed them for this video. Mbaya and Mani Martin are still working on the rest of the album.

Check it out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMenhiJTp_k

In the beginning of 2017, Manzi’s journey just got stronger. He is one of Rwandan dancers who were selected for their skills and experience to participate in International Choreographic Training 'Hors Les Murs' for 2 weeks. This workshop was also prepared by Amizero Dance Kompagnie and Ecole Des Sable (Senegal Dance School).
Choreographic Training; Manzi with the rest of the team

For all the work he does, following his dream from a young age, Manzi Mbaya is an icon of what an artist or a dreamer should to accomplish their dreams; to be able to reach a certain level. In this light, Manzi Mbaya said the goals that he wants to accomplish; the reasons for all his hard work. “My goal is to show Rwandans that Dance can pay your bills. When I dance, I feel free; this is how I express myself. I started dancing when I was very little. The more I dance the more experiences I gain. My knowledge of Dance is like a drop of water in an ocean. Therefore, I need to know more; I need to travel and research. Everyday, I learn.

The team of East African dancers; Choreographic Training "Hors Les Murs"

“I have always had a dream. I am now 21 years old; I will be 22 this coming July. There is this competition called Juste Debut; it is the world’s biggest Street Dance Competition. By the age of 25, I plan be ready to enter this competition which takes place in France. That is one of my dreams.

“My other dream is that by the age of 30, I want to start my own school of Dance.”

For Manzi to want his own school of Dance, this is quite a proof that this kind is missing in Rwanda. Each artist has one thing they wish could change if they had ability and/or authority. “If I had ability and authority, I would establish a National Theater in Rwanda for all artists to have a platform.”

Manzi with Mokhallad Rasem, the director of the piece "Safe"

In addition, Manzi Mbaya started working with Macha’s Dance Company and Kigali Urban School of Dance in 2017. He works as a freelancer for these companies by giving different dance classes. He said, “With Macha’s Company, it is a job but with Kigali Urban School of Dance it’s different. We came up with something called ‘Kigali Dance Camp’ because we wanted to have a joy moment with young generation in dance classes in order to help them love what they do and the beauty of dance.”

Safe

EDUCATION

Manzi Mbaya is a student in the School of Social Sciences in Mount Kenya University; his falculty is Communication and Mass Media.

Aside from being a dancer, Manzi Mbaya wants to be a TV Presenter. As a proactive person, a few months ago he composed 3 episodes of the “Manzi Mbaya Talk Show,” for his love of art. He said, “I love Tv and art and all aspects of art; I love fine arts, I love poetry, I love watching theater and I love being a promoter of these beautiful things. So, since I am a Communication and Mass Media Student, I thought, ‘Maybe I should come up with a talk show; host celebrities and talk about art.’ I love it so I did it. “

This Talk show was very good and there are few, if any like it in Rwanda. The Production, Editing, Casting and Content were very High Class, with a wide of international video tactics. The Production and Editing were done by Isaac Rudakubana. Manzi said, “I have been with Isaac since day 1; that is since 2009 where he produced my first video. Since then, we work together.”

Check out the first episode:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-nNsUIhr-Y

This was an entertainment talk show aimed to broadcast Rwandan and International celebrity news, new music, funny videos, and so on. In this talk show, he also hosted other rising artists on the show. However, Manzi Mbaya said, “The talk show is currently on hold, but the concept is still there. I will resume this plan after graduation because then, it will be much easier.”

Check out the third episode:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdxmiSv0EEI

Before University, Manzi Mbaya studied Construction at Saint Emmanuel de Masaka but he changed his mind about being an engineer so that he can follow his passion.

PERSONAL LIFE

Mbaya is a born strong Muslim; he in fact was awarded a certificate of Good leader of Muslim in high school community as AMIR.

He is currently single as he wants to focus on his career without distractions, “I am currently very busy and getting into a relationship will be lying to someone.”

Like many accomplished people, he has many role models but he named Micheal Jackson and his (Manzi’s) family. Also, he said that his family and his friends are his inspiration.

Manzi and Kapela Marna in Uganda

Conclusively, I asked Mbaya what he does to get out of his funk when a certain project fails. He said, “During Batalo East Festival, I met the dancer Kapela Marna. Kapela Marna is one of my favorite dancers in the world. He is a legend in House; he is currently a judge of Juste Debut 2017, who won Juste Debut in 2016 after 10 years of entering but not winning. Now, he is the official judge of House category. He told me that failing is good because when you fail, you learn from your failure and next time you try to improve. So, when I fail, I don’t feel discouraged. I instead ask myself why I failed, and how to correct my mistakes. Then I come up with another strategy.”


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