A man fiercely driven by his love for God and a passion to touch everything he handles with the spirit of excellence, introduced to the public a reality TV dance programme Celebrity Takes 2 season 2 as the audience glued to their TV as they watched a programme that has been severally described as world class not just in terms of quality but of content Chinyere Okoye speaks to Pastor Segun Lawal, the man behind it is far removed from glamour
“Dance to me is a mind-body fitness and lifestyle practice, it opens your physical, emotional, and mental channels to ecstatic flows, frees and enlivens your authentic passion, subconscious mind, and inner guidance”, Pastor lawal said.
Pastor Segun Lawal is the president and National Coordinator, Spirit of David Dance Company and initiator of Celebrity Takes Two, a reality dance show told THISDAY that while he dance, his mind and body unite with feelings, the feelings and voice merge in breath melt into motion passion, which the freedom to be yourself and express your passion through dance. Dances are a mind-body workout, which becomes warm, fluid, energetic, and feel alive. Surrender to your breath, leave behind judgments, and let the body burst out of your skin in a wild dance.
“My kind of Dance is a spiritual practice where you breathe bliss here and now, using passion breath to open your energy channels and let you spirit and emotions flow freely”, he said.
Again, “I would say I have always had an interest in dance, bearing in mind that I won my first dance competition 27 years ago. I have always appreciated the cultural aspect of dance as opposed to the entertainment side. When I became a Christian, I felt that dance could just be as meaningful in its expression and message”.
For me dance is more of an art that needs to be redefined in our time. It is about the purest of the performing arts: A singer can talk about what he has not experienced, an actor makes it look real, but in dance you can‘t pretend. It is a pure form and that purity speaks to a lot of people.
Though lot of challenges abound as the first child of my parents and the only male. I was in a great school studying a great course and I had also been ordained a pastor. So all those factors did not seem to fit into the dance mode and like you said, dance was deemed unserious.
I think that was what challenged me more. I know I am a smart guy, so for me to take what people look down on and cause them to see that there is a career here, there is a discipline, there is a lot of hard work and intelligence, deep messages I believe it was worth the challenge. I have seen the benefits of it; I have seen lots of people rise up to their talent. Many years ago, who would pay to watch a comedy show? But right now, we have millionaires who are doing comedy.
For Pastor Lawal, “the Spirit of David, to a large extent, paved the way for people to believe in themselves and their God-given talent and to be appreciated and respected”.
According to Pastor Lawal, “I have always been a good dancer, no doubt, but it was not anything major. I think out of the box and this just made people stop and look whenever I am dancing. I was in my final year when I received the divine inspiration for the Spirit of David and we held a show at Ife. It was the first time a complete gospel dance show would be hosted in that school. It was a sell-out, where we had over 3,000 people in attendance for a Christian all-dance show. It was like setting a record and that is when it became obvious we had a calling to do dance”.
“As I began to read scriptures about dance and I began to realize how powerful dance was. In the New Testament for instance, a man was ready to give up half of his kingdom just to see a girl dance for him.
My wife and two great kids are also dancing. If they did not, I would have told my wife to take them to the rightful owner because definitely they would not be mine if they did not dance. I consider myself lucky that I have a great support system. I am blessed to have a wife that is not just partners, but double as friends.
In Spirit of David, We take away the sensuality and sexuality and create something to behold. You don‘t have to show half of your body in order to be attractive, he said.
However, even in the Bible, people have been wearing dreadlocks, though in style it is either a trend or fashion but it is a personal covenant with my God. The truth is I am an arts manager; I have done a lot of study on culture and arts, during which I realized that in most cultures dreadlocks has been a statement of strength, intent, commitment and devotion long before it ever became a fashion statement.
In Nigeria, perhaps we say it is a youthful thing and that is because it is seen more from the entertainment angle than the arts. We are yet to appreciate that aspect of our culture. How many Nigerians have art pieces in their homes? Abroad, we have a lot of people doing dance. Over there at 30 you are considered a young dancer. Outside these shores we have excellent dancers, professionals who are in there 40s and 50s. We have been trained by lots of them and they are way older than us.
Season two of Celebrity Takes 2 has proven to be different from the maiden edition; we have chosen to do things differently, like an improvement on the previous edition. Some of these things I can‘t reveal because they are supposed to be a surprise.
Apart from the different dance styles we are featuring, the celebrities, for instance, will have to learn foreign dance styles so they can represent those cultures. That way it has a more universal appeal because I believe dance is universal, although it expresses our local and cultural understanding he said.
We are going to have our guest judges like we had in season one but this time they will be veterans in music and screen. Last year it was a popularity contest, but this year we are scoring and the scores will count. A lot of people complained season one was more like a popularity contest.
In the nearest future, Pastor Segun looks forward to developing a dance Centre in Nigeria and he explains why. “I don’t want something I take seriously to become another reality show. I want people to appreciate that there is a meaning behind what we do. We believe that dance is wholesome and entertaining but we don’t want it to be just a commercial venture”.