The Dancing Lawyer. A Story of Creation From Nothing

Walking, during the lockdown, has brought me some unexpected joy.  On one occasion, I came across a group of people (probably a family) in the midst of a stroll. Among them was a boy aged approximately four, standing a little away from what seemed like his parents.  This small boy stood above a pothole, visibly amazed at the tarmac that was intertwined with murram beneath him.  His mother reached out to convince him to keep up with the walk. The fixated boy was anything, but persuaded.  I wondered, what existential thought pattern the boy must have had as he lingered over this pothole?

Was he wondering what was beneath, as most geologists have? As an infant (which I once was), one is usually the product of the mistaken belief that theirs is the first generation to discover a thing. This Boy Scout must have been under glorious astonishment at the discovery of a pothole, something which has become quite synonymous with most roads outside Kampala’s central business district.    While the mother continued to ask this budding geologist to move, she gave up on reason, as most parents do when they start the daunting task of playing to the cognitive abilities of a young child. She hastily carried him away to catch up with the rest of the family.

That’s how strange and unfamiliar the past four months have been. This may explain why I have delighted in interacting and seeing strangers.   I was drawn to anything that got me off the dining table by the window, which has become my workspace, an area I cohabit with my laptop. Each person that walks past me presents their own mystery and opens up a whole new imaginable world. Some days, I run into couples walking hand in hand, on other days, I have seen them walk far apart, almost as if they were separated.  On another day, I saw an elderly man (stick in hand) moving with his loyal friend, a dog.  Perhaps, I longed to engage with something quaint, and out of routine as opposed to being at home. In this season, this undeniable oddness has made me grow fond of strangers, and has also led me to rediscover my strange love for dancing.

Sometimes while taking walks, I have odd outbursts where I randomly break into rhythmic dance moves to a song that is playing in my head. In a particular instance, unknown to me, while I ‘danced,’ my friend was recording. When I saw the video, it took me on a memory lane to 2010, when I used to dance at my local church group. I know that many might find this hard to believe, especially considering my impressive physique, but, I am an immensely talented dancer – or, so I have been told. I have contemplated a career in dancing. In this blog, I will narrate how I became a part of a dance group, and I will draw some lessons about perceptions and perseverance from my career as a dance-lawyer.
My Dancing Team 
We are three. My friend Daniel, a dance trainer, choreographer and fitness instructor.  My sister Jacinta, a dancer with recognizable talent who is studying business administration at University. She also makes great fashion designs and is tremendously gifted as an artist.  These two by far, are more agile than me, and to flog a dead horse, it doesn’t do me any favours that I come from a profession, that’s a stickler to rules and codes. After I had been randomly recorded by Daniel, we challenged ourselves to record a dance video. What followed was a roller coaster of a journey!
Half Truths
The success we see for most people, is only the end product (as the adage goes “they do not know the story, behind the glory”).  It is only half the truth. Dancing is not a walk in the park. Some days we are left limping and I question my capabilities as a dancer. Creating choreography is more taxing than it looks.  Although a well-coordinated dance routine may appear easy to execute when you watch any of our videos on my Whatsapp, social media can be deceptive.  A successful surgery comes after endless preparation, trainings and practice, which may not be evident when a life is saved.

Trish Hall writes in reference to the partial truth that most people (intentionally or unintentionally) and, in the most limited way tell on social media. She comments that, the truth coexists with a larger, more complex social “truth.” Our social truth is woven of lies—like the guy who can hardly stand his wife but keeps posting tributes to her on Facebook, presenting the image of a contented couple in a blossoming marriage. Social media propels a personal definition of truth, so that now some people think that if they believe something could be true or ought to be true, it is. In the same way, one might not get the full picture about the rigor that dancing requires when they see our videos. Working to create a coordinated and well-choreographed dance is not such a simple feat. The moves may look fairly straight forward, when recorded, but a lot of work goes on behind the scenes.  And when one sees the final video, although good, it is only half the truth.

The Process

Typically, we have to first agree on a song, before we dance. Sometimes, we consider whether it is contemporary music, after which we try and predict whether the song is groovy. When we agree on a song, we then play it and start creating the moves. If a dance move comes to one’s mind, it is put forward for consideration. Then the rest of the team may agree on whether the move is suitable or not. Sometimes we consider the flexibility and ability of the team before we agree on a move, especially as a precautionary step for those whose muscles might strain. In early 2019, I had the opportunity to watch Giuseppe Verdi‘s  La Traviata at the Royal Opera House in London. This thrilling 4 hour opera (with breaks) was such an engaging revival of a tragic tale but, rich with visual opulence – vocals and dance routines that left me breathless. But for most Operas, the cast and orchestra prepare for months (with some preparations stretching to six months). While our choreography is not an opera, it is similar in many ways. We practice for an average of seven-eight hours to get a one minute routine (approximately the same time it takes to fly a plane from Tanzania to Netherlands).

Some days are not as strenuous as the others. On days where our creative juices are not flowing in regards to composing innovative dance moves, we may postpone the practice. Or, on most times, it takes me a longer time to master a move. On worse days, we may even disagree on whether a dance move is ideal for that part of the song. After agreeing on the moves we have to then incorporate transitions.  Usually, Daniel’s expertise as a professional dancer comes in handy, as together with my sister, they always figure out sleek ways we can transition from one dance stroke to another.  Even though, by their standards, I am far from being a perfect dancer, they are always keen to listen to my views. At the brain storming stage, my ideas are sharpened further by their opinions, and when we execute the dance moves, one might not even have a single clue about evolution of the dance routine.
It takes effort to create art or to become perfect at anything.  Malcolm Gladwell writes that it takes close to 10,000 hours to become perfect at anything. Although his views are tenable at some level, it is questionable whether one needs to be perfect at something. I am certainly not a perfect dancer. But working with Daniel and Jacinta, enhances my abilities. Although some days are hard, dancing is fun, and it is more pleasurable when we see the end product of the video recording. Watching ourselves gives us an undeniable sense of satisfaction. For us the reward is the video recording, but the grit is in the rehearsal routine. From my career as a dance-lawyer, the principles that apply to dance, can be applied universally.

For one to be consistent, they must practice daily to make themselves better, and the same can be said in any field of practice, even for the law and art. Consistency is an indispensable key to mastery of anything in life. Once you do not practice you get rusty, that is why Daniel on the face of it, effortlessly gets the dance moves at first attempt. While it takes me about eight-nine attempts to master a dance move. I cannot be compared to my teammates, (and there would be no point in doing so), but, together we are formidable.

For every final cut of anything in life. There are omissions. In reference to my attempt at a Micheal Jackson career. For every video we put out, about 5 days of practice, numerous moves suggested but only a few make the final choreography. On shooting about ten takes, seven different angles, four different themes and costumes. Maybe some one forgot a sequence in one of the videos and another person in the next. Whilst editing, some parts will be taken from a video that was the top of the pick and joined with parts from another. That is the process that allows you to sit and reflect, marvel and applaud yourself at an achievement.Without each of those ingredients, the recipe is not complete and the final is not absolute. So, I have learnt to respect each high and low. It is a symbiotic balance that you will encounter in many aspects of your life that aids learning and definitely growth. To look back on a journey, you must have had a trajectory.  A past that leads in front.

I still watch our dance videos, even weeks later, and I am marveled at how so much goes into choreography that one may miss at first sight. For J. K. Rowling, her story demonstrates “failure on an epic scale,” as she describes it. A short-lived marriage, an unemployed single mother, whose manuscripts had been rejected over and over again.  Seeing the success of her Harry Potter novels, may blind one of the perseverance behind the scenes. For some lawyers, before a landmark brief at the Supreme Court, there may be countless losses in lower courts that sharpen one’s understanding. For some, endless nights go into preparation for presentations, and, most parents spend sleepless nights to tend to a baby that grows to become independent. Dancing like most of these,   requires persistence, grit and motivation. I am far from comparable to the immense talent that Jacinta and Daniel have, however, that does not deter me, it inspires me, and even when it takes long to get a move, I rise up the following day and try again.
  • Unknown
    Posted at 11:50h, 04 July Reply

    This is a good piece. I don't know why I suddenly feel the urge to revive my once sound dance career.??

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 14:20h, 04 July Reply

    Thank you. It's never too late.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 16:01h, 04 July Reply

    We missed you in the Inter-House MDD show downs in O-le. With your input Africa might have derailed AgaKhan from it's streak.
    A very relatable piece. For anything in life we need the three Ts…..Tenacity, Talent and Time. With your physiology I am elated to know you can still move like Jagger.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 16:26h, 04 July Reply

    That's very kind of you to say. I'd still pick the House of Diplomats, any day – though I accept, Agakhan always swept the day for the Music Dance and Drama competitions.

    I am happy to hear that you could relate to the piece. Indeed, tenacity, talent and time are crucial.

    Thank you for taking time to read and comment.

  • Unknown
    Posted at 16:55h, 04 July Reply

    Its an awesome piece worth the read.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 17:46h, 04 July Reply

    Thank you.

  • Unknown
    Posted at 18:17h, 04 July Reply

    It's an awesome piece . You should sell the videos to marketing companies and earn during these harsh times

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 18:19h, 04 July Reply

    Thank you for these kind words. I will consider this

  • Ezra
    Posted at 18:58h, 04 July Reply

    You write so well. I love the exhaustive description, and the lessons therein.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 19:27h, 04 July Reply

    Thank you Ezra for these kind words. I am glad that you could relate and learn something from this.

  • Joel Naluwairo
    Posted at 19:47h, 04 July Reply

    Well thought and written. Cheers Joel

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 20:14h, 04 July Reply

    Thank you, Joel.

  • Unknown
    Posted at 20:14h, 04 July Reply

    Amazing piece Joel. I love how you use your dance experience to share soo much wisdom. As someone that consumes a whole lot of half truths and often get carried away, this piece provided a light bulb moment

  • Ivan
    Posted at 20:23h, 04 July Reply

    Ah Joel, I’m prompted to laugh but I won’t carry through with it because I don’t have it in me when it comes to dancing. That said, there are people that walk through life without toiling and that’s fine, but my preference is for putting in the hard work with all that it involves and the satisfaction that comes with it when we have made it. Thank you for sharing

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 20:42h, 04 July Reply

    Thank you, Rebecca for these very kind words. Glad that this post offered some perspective on truths.


  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 20:48h, 04 July Reply

    Thank you for your comment, Ivan.

    I agree, some people may walk through life without toiling and, as you have rightly put it, hard work nevertheless remains important.

    That makes two of us! I certainly don't have it in me.

    You are welcome.

  • Shaban Kitimbo
    Posted at 02:43h, 05 July Reply

    Wow, Its such a well articulated article about being on the grind!

    In my opinion the principles are universally applicable especially when it comes to mastery. And I would like to say that this article is a true reflection of that considering the numerous articles I have read written by you.

  • Biggie
    Posted at 08:38h, 05 July Reply

    Wow. I saw you dance one time kyoka?

  • Esther Akullu
    Posted at 13:52h, 05 July Reply

    Beautiful piece. I an glad you got to revive the dancer in you!Growing up I used to marvel at how long it took us to practice for MAPA(Makerere Performing Arts) concert and then appear on stage for under six minutes. I guess it is clearer now…that's the way it is…spectators would never believe how much time we took preparing. I have personally watched your dance videos and you have done extremely well. I am glad you have drawn great lessons from it all too. The lockdown was not so terrible after all!

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 14:52h, 05 July Reply

    Thank you CK for these very kind words. I agree, they are universally applicable.

    Thanks, CK.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 14:53h, 05 July Reply

    Thank you Biggie. I know you are also a talented dancer.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 14:56h, 05 July Reply

    Yes, it hasn't been that terrible.

    Thank you, Esther for these kind words. Its amazing how much goes into preparation and practice that doesn't meet the eye.

    I am happy that this blog offers some clarity to the questions you had.

  • Unknown
    Posted at 17:01h, 05 July Reply

    Great piece, Joe. I never knew you had the moves but I've seen with my own eyes that you do. Some great preparation goes into that.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 18:42h, 05 July Reply

    Thank you for these kind words. Yes, alot of preparation goes into it.

  • N.Sesquipedalianist
    Posted at 04:14h, 06 July Reply

    Joel this piece is awesome. I have seen the gwara gwara moves you pull and indeed it is hard to imagine a principled lawyer do them. The road you walk in choosing to blow your life with fun is an inspirational one. Nice one mate. Dance to infinity!

  • Edwin Chris
    Posted at 06:11h, 06 July Reply

    The effort and rigour invested is inspiring. It's a lesson for all of us, sometimes we surrender even without a fight. Thanks for the beautiful piece!

  • Unknown
    Posted at 08:51h, 06 July Reply

    Joel,this is a great piece, quite inspiring. Many of us tend to occasionally give up only after a few attempts. This piece has reinstated the hard truth, it only takes persistence and perseverance to accomplish a dream and goals

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 11:30h, 06 July Reply

    Thank you, Noah for these very kind words.

    Yes, I shall dance to infinity. Thanks, mate!

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 11:31h, 06 July Reply

    Thank you, bro. Glad that you found this inspiring and that there was a valuable lesson.

    You are welcome.

  • Unknown
    Posted at 13:49h, 06 July Reply

    This is lovely Joel. I surely got reminded about some valuable success lessons!

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 15:15h, 06 July Reply

    Thank you for these kind words. I am happy that you find this inspirational. Yes, persistence and perseverance are important when pursuing one's goals.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 15:15h, 06 July Reply

    Thanks alot for this positive feedback.

  • Unknown
    Posted at 11:15h, 07 July Reply

    Joel, I loved this. I too find myself mesmerised by strangers and silence these days. The sudden halt to plans because of the Pandemic made me realise that true happiness lies in our perception of what constitutes a good life. So, whilst I may be silent, I have found contentment in not doing, just being, breathing and living which is sometimes difficult in normal circumstances. Your post was written for me because it felt like you were talking to me. At this moment in my life where everything seems to have been paused or broken, I have never been so happy or more grateful. But I did not get here overnight, it took many days of practise and just like you, after many failed dance moves, I am slowly becoming a better dancer to the rhythms of life! BTW, your name came up in one of my conversations and we busted out laughing at one of your sayings. Speak soon, E.

  • Kato Mpanga
    Posted at 16:54h, 07 July Reply

    Wow. This is a great piece Joel. Simply summarised in the words, 'success is only a tip of the iceberg.' I've liked your thoughts on consistency. Trish Hall's thoughts on the half truths on social media are also mind opening. Thanks for sharing! Keep the faith sir!

  • Nora
    Posted at 03:19h, 08 July Reply

    Thank you for this, Joel. It reminds me to take one day at a time, and to never give up. Every loss, obstacle or challenge we experience in achieving something is just part of the process to success. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 04:39h, 08 July Reply

    I am happy to hear that you loved this, especially that you could relate to it.

    I agree, contentment should come from being oneself. Undoubtedly a lot has changed, but as you have said, despite many failed dance moves, we slowly get better at this dance of life.

    Haha! I wonder which saying! Let us speak soon.

    I really appreciate the kind words.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 04:43h, 08 July Reply

    Thank you Mr Kato Mpanga for these extremely kind words.

    I agree, success is only a tip of the iceberg. I equally was provoked by Trish Hall's thoughts when I read her book.

    I am glad that you liked this blog. Thanks for the feedback, Chris.

  • Tabitha Malaika
    Posted at 21:29h, 08 July Reply

    Can you please write a book already?!

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 14:52h, 09 July Reply

    You are welcome, Norah. It is important to take one day at time. I am glad that you found this encouraging.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 14:52h, 09 July Reply

    Thank you, Tabitha. I am writing one.

  • Cynthia Mugambwa
    Posted at 10:46h, 17 July Reply

    'Consistency is key to mastery of anything in life!' Great Piece Joel and keep at it!!

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 20:01h, 27 July Reply

    Thanks. Cynthia for these kind words.

  • Sunita Treacher
    Posted at 15:42h, 23 August Reply

    What an inspiring article Joe. Great piece of work. I love how you have an aim to life, which requires knowledge, hardwork, your perseverance, consistency and discipline. Nothing comes for free and if you want it so bad you work hard to make sure you get. 

  • Innocent
    Posted at 12:15h, 14 September Reply

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Innocent
    Posted at 12:18h, 14 September Reply

    Wow! The heavens have been preparing me for this profoundly satisfying experience, it seems.
    Sitting in room 14 at kiira college butiki and listening to you deliver those stunning sermons that left us craving for
    more and now, reading this beautifully written pieace years later, I reckon that gifted young man has culminated in not only a greate orator but also an admirable writer. I am now certain good wine tastes better with age. Thanks Joel for this vivifying addition.

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 18:00h, 14 September Reply

    Thank you Mrs Treacher for these very kind words. I agree, hardwork , perseverance and consistency are key. And so is discipline

  • Joel Basoga
    Posted at 18:02h, 14 September Reply

    Thank you Innocent for these extremely kind words. You are welcome. Thanks for being a part of this journey since high school and for taking time to read.

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