Tell us about yourself?
My name properly is Anesu Mutangadura, but I generally go with Case because it’s a lot easier to say and remember. It saves me the hassle of having to say Anesu like Nestle rather than Aneesu like a knee because there’s no double ee. It takes awhile, but you know...given that my name isn’t English I was born in Africa. I was born in Zimbabwe, Harare. I am a young man of 27 years old. Or old, depending on how you want to define young and old.
I’ve lived in a total of about 6 countries so far. 8 years being in Vancouver, 9 or 10 years in America, and the rest being spread across Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and England. Given that, I do have a bit of experience with different cultures, different nationalities, the United Nations, you name it, I’ve probably been there done that and seen it. It also causes me to never really want to stay in one place for too long. I’m an only child, single mother, so, living the dream. She lives in New York while I live in Vancouver. I’ve been here for 8 years and graduated with a bachelors from UBC, a double major in Psychology and Sociology. A diploma from BCIT, graphics computation technology and management which is primarily graphics designing, printing, and business management. Fun stuff about it is that it takes a lot of work, and I’m very lazy, so that’s a fun time. [smiles]. I broke the Guiness Book of World Records as well.
Not much to explain, I play too many video games apparently. [interviewer laughs] I got into the book [the Guiness Book of World Records].
What was the record for?
Playing the longest amount of FIFA, consecutively. I did it for about 36 hours.
It got beaten the next year, don’t get me wrong, because people love FIFA, but the fact that we were in the book and it was on paper was pretty epic.
Yeah for sure, that’s awesome. And tell me about your dance.
Currently I primarily teach classes at UBC and iDance. I teach two classes at UBC, a grooving and open level hip hop class. At iDance I teach an intermediate level hip hop class. I subbed for a bunch of the teachers, whether it be house, hip hop...I haven’t done the dancehall yet, but if I had to do that one I would probably die, I haven’t done it in a long time.
You could do dancehall? Sweet.
I could do dancehall, mine’s more Afro than it is Jamaica dancehall but…
What about Afro Funk, would you be able to do that one?
Yeah, though Afro Funk is really based off of West Africa, and I’ve grown up with a lot of East Africa, Southern Africa dances. I do know West African dances but...body movement is always the same no matter where it is, it’s more about where to move your body and how to do it. I have been dancing or training in dance since 2010 ish. I didn’t take classes consistently, I did some classes here and there. I did some club dance stuff at UBC but it was never an entire year. It was mostly during the school year, I’d take some classes here and there, practice, perform. And then not do it again for god knows how long and then I’d get back into it in the school year. That type of thing. So I never consistently danced until 2014 ish, where I joined Full Force Company with Chris Wong and Kyle Vicente. And that’s where I grew a lot more. But previously when I was at UBC I was part of a club called Dance Horizons, that’s currently where I teach dance classes at the moment. It’s a not for profit dance club that tries to bring in both contemporary and hip hop classes together. So Similar to iDance as well. They’re all open level classes so it encourages people to try it out and learn.
I never actually danced until I came to Vancouver, so I started at the age of like 20, 21.
What would you want to do going forward?
I’m not too sure at the moment. I remember when I made my dance book for CD [Culturally Defined, a Vancouver dance group], my quote was that I do it for a smile, what makes you happy...because, when you dance with people you get to interact with them, you get to see more about them, you get to have fun with them, you get to see them smile and have a good experience. If you can help them have that good experience it makes you feel good inside a little bit.
Half the people teach because they enjoy seeing people smile in their classes, and I’m not going to say I’m different than that, but at the same time I don’t know what I’m looking to do in the future. I have considered doing more classes, I have considered being professional and taking tours and being a proper dancer, but then I’m like, nah, I’m too lazy for that. I’ve got too much fatitude in my body, I’ve got the love handles that roll on for days [interviewer laughs]. But I don’t know, going forward, I want to see people happy, smile, and make them laugh. It’s definitely a fun time.
Cool. So how do you like teaching at iDance?
Teaching at iDance is an adventure. You never know who you’re going to interact with sometimes, because people often say don’t look at people as regular, see them as who they are. If they come back they come back, if they don’t they don’t. Each student has their own interactions, their own behaviors, their own understanding of what makes them move, groove, and have a good time. So trying to always incorporate, encompass, and make sure they’re all happy takes a bit of a challenge because you never know whether or not they’re happy unless they tell you they’re happy. They won’t always tell you if they’re happy but oh my god the receptionist will know! [laughing], she’ll hear everything about you. You make one small mistake, you fart in class, they will know everything. And you’ll be like oh god I hope they didn’t hear that. [both laugh] But it’s always a good time because everyone always wants to try new things, laugh with you, work with you, and talk with you. And I know that I’m probably one of the younger teachers here, in terms of teaching-wise as well as age-wise, because I’ve only been teaching for two years at iDance, whereas some of them have probably been teaching and training a lot longer than I have, which is why that’s its own adventure because you have to catch up to par with all the teachers, you have to encourage the students, make sure they’re happy. You have to be confident in yourself even though at times you’re not as qualified to be that person, but you shouldn’t stop and not be that person because if you do stop you’re failing your job, and I’m not paid to fail my job, I’m paid to do my job.
So what do you think of the clients and the staff?
The staff’s ok, this Amanda Webb is pretty cool [interviewer laughs], I don’t know, there’s Deanna Cheng, she’s pretty funny and sweet, there’s Jade, she’s pretty tall but pretty awesome, there’s Amanda big boss lady Hemmaway, she is scary as…[laughs] just kidding she’s not scary at all. She’s the sweetest person in the world. Staff at iDance is pretty awesome. Teacher wise, there are a lot of good teachers, a lot of variety, everyone’s willing to help out each other. And we’re like one big family but we’re not a family at all because we’re all so scattered around, but whenever someone needs help people are all there to help. Like any group of people put together, it’s fun. The clients are all crazy fun people. There are people like Rita that make you want to strangle her and laugh with her at the exact same time because she’s loud and rambunctious but she’s also a good person to have in class because she’s always there to cheer you on and make you laugh along with everyone in the class. And there’s more good people, like Cristina, Diandra, there’s also all the people who are more quiet but they’re also really fun to hang out with in class, like Erica, who’s a small one that’s always quiet but is always loud and fun to have because she’s always trying her best. There’s a bunch of different people that I see that are fun to interact with. You get other people like Kerry and Pam who aren’t old by any chance but they always keep up even if they’re older than some of the others. I also incorporate things to make sure people aren’t left behind, so you’re always conscious of who’s in your class and you care for everyone. You also want to give everyone a good enough challenge, and not break their bodies like I have in the process. [laughing]
Yep, so true. Tell us about living in Africa.
Zambia was pretty fun and chill. Everyone there was crazy as all hell...I’m joking [laughs]. They’re happy people, they’re nice. Living in Southern Africa is a lot different than living in other places because it’s a lot warmer there all year round. Winter there isn’t cold enough for it to snow at all. It doesn’t rain as much in the winter and when it rains it’s relaxing because you hear the pitter patter of raindrops on the roof and it relaxes you to bed. Living in Africa in general, you get more organic food, as people like to call it here. It’s the same food but more natural. It’s not as processed as people have in the West. I think it makes you feel more alive in a sense. And people there are different too. Everyone is happy to be alive. Just to be alive. They’re more real in a sense. When living in Vancouver you tend to learn that things are not always as real as you think they are. It happens a lot in Western cultures in general.
What do you mean? Give us an example...
No one is ever going to be truly, truly themselves to you here...because they have things to lose, they have things to hide, they have things...whatever. You meet someone in Africa, whether they be a poor-ass person or a rich ass-person - often if they’re super rich they’re international - they’re probably going to be real and upfront with you. It happens in the States where they’ll be upfront with you but they still have their guard up, where you’re not fully being you. Whereas there [in Africa] they smile because they’re happy, they just want to have a good time, they don’t care what happens, they just want to be happy. Whereas here you can’t have that same natural happiness, there has to be some reason to be happy, whether you got a new house, a new car, a new job. There if you see your friend, you’re happy right away. It’s just that natural happiness. Don’t get me wrong, it happens here too, people can be that happy, it does happen, but I feel like the culture here is not around that type of happiness. That’s why when everyone comes to class I try to make people laugh and be happy because I know that they’ll always have to have their guard up elsewhere; whereas in my class, what are you putting your guard up for? I’m not doing anything to you. I see you sweat, what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? I see you laughing, oh my god you’re laughing at me [laughing].
Awesome. So do you miss living in Africa?
Yes and no. I lived there at different age groups. Living there as an adult would probably be different than as a child, because you have less hassles as a kid. Living in the States is a lot easier as a child than as an adult. You get different opportunities, different hassles. And I know that living internationally gives you more passes to apparently earn money, but it’s also a bit of a hassle because you can’t necessarily be the dream that everyone thinks that you are because you have your own hassles living here too. You have struggles living in Canada, you have struggles living abroad because visas, passports, things like that, oh man, they’ll give you grey hairs by the time you’re 24.
I feel you…
International life, as fun as it is, it’s never the best life. Unless you’re paid for by the UN then nevermind, you can live that life.
So do you think you want to stay in Vancouver or are you itching to go somewhere else?
Oh I’ve been itching to leave Vancouver for the past 6 years but…
Oh wow. Where would you go?
I don’t know yet, I have to either go to South America or Asia
because that’s where I haven’t been yet, travel-wise or living-wise. I have thought about planning for places there, jobs, lifestyles, but I think the next thing for me, the next goal is to get a good home base somewhere that’s not the United States, that’s easy to travel. Because I mean, I’m sorry, I’m not a political person but it’s a bit of a gong show at the moment and I don’t feel comfortable having that as a home base that I can go back to. And I haven’t really lived in Zimbabwe, I don’t feel that’s a home base, so finding that relaxing place is a challenge. But each person can find that spot if they look for it, they may have to struggle, but it’s possible.
Well we appreciate having you here at iDance. Anything else you want to add?
iDance is awesome, everyone should dance here, it’s the best place in the world. Everyone is so friendly.
Thanks Case, and thanks for telling us about your life, what an adventure!