By Florence Amagiya
ALICE ENENCHE started as an international dancer from age nine. She acquired a name to reckon with in Benue state Arts and Culture and in the dance world. Hers was a journey that started when she was only a girl and when her mates were still spoon fed.
Today, she has travelled to many countries representing her state and her country, Nigeria. In this interview, she talks about her journey into limelight; her journeys abroad for competitions, her job as a dance Artiste for a national troupe from 2000-2005 and her launch into the movies Except.
How Dance discovered me
I didn’t choose dance; l would say it was the other way round. Dance choose me; because l didn’t grow up in a home where dance was appreciated. I just was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time; destiny found me on that fateful day and the rest was history.
I was only nine years old when l got the platform to dance; my family and I usually visit this primary school in my neigbourhood while we were growing up. The name of the primary school is Arabic Primary School, Makurdi, Benue state. We were attracted to the Primary School those days because of the activities taking place there.
There was this dance group always practicing there and we were attracted to their dance noise and steps. It became a routine for us to visit the primary school and watch them rehearse. I became so captivated by the dance that l was always practicing the steps at home.
Then a day came; while we were watching like we used to do. The instructor was amazed that the class he was teaching couldn’t get the steps right; out of exasperation he exclaimed that the little girl sitting and watching the dance would do better than they were all doing!
So he beckoned on me to come and show the adults how the steps are done; he felt l have been attentive. I became a member of Ebony Dance Troupe, Makurdi that day; l was only nine years old when that event took place and it gave my life a turning point. I became what l am today because of that day.
After I discovered…
It was not the policy of the dance group to recruit young children for dancing until the youth is 18 years of age, but the law was rewritten because of me and chances were created for other young children to equally become dancers and a younger dance group was formed because of the young ones. A junior group was created known as the Junior Ebony theatre group.
Eventually, l stayed with this dance group until the year 2000. In the year 2000, I was given a full time Civil Service employment in Benue state Arts and Culture as a Dance Artiste with the National troupe. My job was to represent my state in dance competitions and this took me to several countries in the world. This lasted from 2000- 2003, then in 2003-2005, I was secondment in the same national troupe.
My challenges as a young dancer
l was only a child and all l wanted to do was to play. I didn’t see it as very hard work; hence l may not describe it as a challenge, but there were times all l wanted to do was play and not dance. And there were also times l wanted to do something else other than dancing, rehearsals, school and home work.
My childhood was cut short because l started learning to dance like an adult at that tender age. I would say that l grew up dancing. I have virtually travelled everywhere in the world with my dancing career.
My state of Origin and the platforms Theatre gave me
I am from Akpegede in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue state. Dance gave me the platform to travel to so many countries in the world. I made friends and interacted with so many people outside the country.
I learnt so many cultures other than ours and discovered that some of these cultures are similar to ours. Dance made me discover myself; perhaps l would have done something else with my life; if nature hasn’t intervened that fateful day. It made me know what l wanted to be early in life; I studied Theatre Arts in the University of dance. Dance gave me job satisfaction. I wouldn’t have been happier in any other profession.
At age 20; l was given a full time job as a Dance Artiste in Benue state and it was renewed for another three years until it became boring and it was time to move on. I am no more in active dancing today; I am trying my hands in the movies. Since dance is a part of Theatre; it is easy for me to work with because it is now a part of me.