Abdul Muyingo Kinyenya aka Abdanger has been dancing for as long as he can remember.
He has travelled the world, met former US president Barack Obama and received international recognition. As early as 12 years, Muyingo was taking part in music, dance and drama competitions at Buganda Road primary school in late 90s.
Once he joined Kibuli Secondary School, he represented his Kakungulu house during the inter-house competitions. Not much a fan of traditional music, together with Hakim Zziwa they started practicing dance moves out of a book Zziwa had got from a relative in the USA.
They soon became popular for breakdance and when Michael Kasaija was starting Kombat Dancers, he contacted the young duo. They did a few gigs but were still busy with school.
The two were eventually sent home during S5 after they were found practicing in the night. Muyingo was expelled and ended up at Kawempe Muslim School. The two have since got degrees in International Business. Hakim further studied film and now works with Harvard University in addition to running his own brand Hakfocus.
After a chance meeting with Hip Hop Night’s Abramz who later got the space at Sharing Hall Nsambya, Break Dance Project Uganda was born in 2006.
It attracted hundreds of young people and a year later the renowned dance outfit Tabu Flo, was born. Tabu Flo has changed the breakdance landscape, with the group using dance for advocacy, entertainment and education for the youth.
“It was our way to show youths that one can earn through the art of dancing,” he says. “Dance is that one language spoken globally.”
The man known as Abdanger cites success dance stories such as the Ghetto Kids, or even his crew-mates such as Rosemary Atim, who was the only dance major at Makerere University in 2017 and is successfully running a couple of businesses; Antonio Bukhar, who is currently teaching dance at the University of Auckland in New Zealand; and Zziwa, who went on to study film in the USA and now shoots all their dance videos.
Tabu Flo was awarded the Young Achievers Award in 2011 and has been featured on CNN African Voices and The Economist, among others. The crew has toured Europe, USA, Asia and Africa.
DANCING TO THE TOP
Apart from being the creative director of Tabu Flo, Muyingo is also a founder of Batalo East, a not-for-profit organization formed to link traditional and urban arts. He has also worked with YALI Uganda in partnership with the US embassy, supporting youths in different parts of the world.
He was a Mandela Washington fellow in 2016, a Hip Hop ambassador with the US Department in 2010 and a WIEF Young Leaders Network Fellow. Now the boy who was once kicked out of school for dance, earns a comfortable living off his dance shoes.
While he owns other businesses and a house in Entebbe, which land he hopes to expand to accommodate a dance centre, Muyingo measures his success differently.
“One of my biggest achievements is seeing dancers in Uganda achieving things we never thought possible, like opening up dance studios or becoming lecturers in international universities where we can visit as guest lecturers,” he says.
BORN INTO THE ARTS
Born in Jinja in 1986, Muyingo moved to Kampala as a child. His mother moved to Japan for greener pastures, while his father was a travelling businessman, making a young Muyingo streetwise enough to explore entertainment spots such as DV8 and Sabrina’s pub.
With actor/director/broadcaster Abby Mukiibi as his uncle, the arts clearly run in the family and hanging around haunts such as Bat Valley theatre inspired him at an early age and he is not about to hang up his dance shoes.