Meet the barefooted divas

Takudzwa Chihambakwe
TOP female acts like Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift make it a point that their stage gear includes some extremely high heels.

Locally, some trending divas do not seem to like shoes at all — they rock the stage barefoot.

Ammara Brown, Tamy Moyo, Gemma Griffiths and Hope Masike just love connecting with mother earth during their performances.

Many people have been left wondering whether this is a spiritual act or a new trend.

The Sunday Mail Society had a chat with some of the divas.

Tammy
Tammy

Tamy Moyo likes the freedom

“Performing barefooted is an expression of freedom and art. The stage is the one place I can truly be who I want to be and the one place I am allowed to tell my story the way I can and want to. It’s the freedom to move about on stage without any limitations.”

She added that being barefoot helps her articulate the rhythm of the music. “I remove shoes to truly express the dance aspect of my performance with no limitations and communicate to those watching that you too can come into this space and allow the music to sweep you off your feet.”

It is also an embrace of tradition.

“Most African cultural dances are done without any shoes and I always found that fascinating and inspiring so I thought it would be nice to incorporate it. At times it’s a fashion statement. It’s a statement about freedom of expression and a representation of the new age where one can dress as they please and be different.”

Comfort first for Gemma

This writer first noticed Gemma go barefoot on stage at Miombo Magic. Considering the setting of Miombo Magic, she just appeared to be a young lady connecting with nature and enjoying it.

Then when she opened for the Grammy award-winning act, Joss Stone, at the 7 Arts Theatre in Avondale last year, shoeless, it was obvious something was up.

“The stage is home to me. It’s where I feel most at ease, most comfortable, most natural,” said Gemma, adding, “Being comfortable in what I’m wearing whilst performing is super important. To have no distractions and to concentrate on nothing but the music.”

It started in high school.

“I’ve never really thought about it but now that I do, it really is a must for me. I remember the one time in a national music competition I got into trouble with my teacher for getting on stage in my school uniform and then kicking off my shoes after I sat down at the piano.

“Looking back it’s quite funny to think that now I live by that ritual. Generally I have never been one to wear shoes when I don’t have to — but especially on stage. I’m much happier to be barefoot. That way there is nothing between my feet and the stage.”

Heels can be painful for

Hope Masike

“I like being in heels and dancing around in them while on stage but at times hiri inozombo gwadza (sometimes heels can be painful). I am sure any woman can relate here. No matter how good a heel is, if you wear it for too long you risk kutanga kufamba uchinge uri kutyora muzura (struggling to walk) with each step,” said Hope.

“For instance, at Hifa I had many performances, ‘a million rehearsals’, shoots and interviews so my body would then tell me when it was okay to wear heels and when to use dza Adam (barefoot).

“Still focusing on Hifa, the opening concert saw me epitomising the African queen, Mosi oa Tunya. My scene felt very spiritual to me. Add to that, it was raining, my dance stage was wet. So obviously it would have been suicidal to wear heels — it ended up being very befitting too to feel the water beneath my feet as that character is water.”

The mbira princess also revealed that going barefoot has made her set more energetic.

“For my MbiraMagic concert, there was just too much fire in the entire place, my stage and the audience. So I got utterly hot, more like emotionally and spiritually hot. It was a delicious burning sensation but as I gave more I got thirsty for more air I suppose. So the shoes came off, the jacket came off, the headgear came off. Had we played much longer, no telling what else was going to come off.

“It also depends on the time of the month. Sometimes there are cramps and backaches at play, demanding I wear nothing above the floor. In a nutshell, I listen to my femininity, my body, the space around my stage and audience. All of it tells me what’s going on in and outside, and subsequently to be or not to be high-heeled.”

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