NTV Uganda has dusted off its signature reality dance show Hot Steps for a new season, its fifth installment, in what looks like a desperate attempt to regain its long lost numero uno status. It’s a bold attempt at baiting and retaining eyeballs considering that the programme was on a hiatus. That’s also probably because after the competition was done, there was nothing much to show of what the winners had made of their dance lives.
It’s the folly of winner-take-it-all shows. The runners-up are usually left to eat the vanquisher’s dust who will also most likely blow up the prize with nothing much to show post-competition. There’s been one exception, Season One winner Antonio Bukhar who alongside some of his contemporaries went on to form what should have been Uganda’s top urban dance act. Not much is said about Tabu Flo Dance Company these days although the good news is that Antonio is somewhere in New Zealand charting academic pursuits that should bring a pedagogic approach to our dances especially the traditional ones.
Season Two winner, a one Arafat, has the most laughable tale to a fool and his money. He apparently sank all his winnings in a music career that crashed and burned. The footnote to his albeit sad Hot Steps tale is that he hooked up a “white visa” arts-speak for one who liaises with a Caucasian woman as a ticket to plying one’s trade in European concrete jungles. It’s said to be a wretched life that reduces one to a circus monkey of sorts.
Season Three winner is one of three judges on the current season and the brains behind the Wembley Mo Foundation, an NGO-type outfit that supposedly uses “dance for life change”. He’s said to be a much sought-after dancer/ choreographer for most dance-driven music videos.
There’s not much word about LXD, the posse of hulking lads that won Season Four. It’s only breakaway Walter Ruva that has much going for him by way of a dance cardio African-themed class at the National Theatre. He’s further proof that LXD’s group dynamics were just about winning that edition of what should now be referred to as “frosty steps”.
Only one episode of Season Five has had the requisite sting thus far – the Gulu audition one that had Catherine Nakaweesa as a guest judge sitting in for Rosemary Atim. She gave the most constructive feedback if only the hopefuls had the presence of mind to look past the UGX38m (about $10K) being dangled as prize money this year.
They probably didn’t know that Nakaweesa is an alumna of Ecole des Sables, the top African contemporary dance institution based in Senegal, a CV that even towers above Ronnie Mulindwa’s Namasagali College and Obsessions founder dance pedigree. In that one episode, Nakaweesa proved that in her was a Mia Michaels, the So You Think You Can Dance guest judge who saw to it that all the Top 10 of a certain season found work on Celine Dion’s Live in Las Vegas show. The Gulu hopefuls should have taken her word for it when she boasted she was the judge that would guarantee their careers after the UGX38m prize money is gone. Sadly, not many took her up on her offer.