You wouldn’t be incorrect to associate ballet with tiny blonde women with tight buns. However, there are African ballet bright stars that have made great strides in the industry and are doing quite well for themselves.
Well, we found one right here in Accra. She’s a Ballerina who doubles as a Contemporary Dancer and she has an amazing voice too.
Araya is a Model and she holds a Degree in Business Administration too. We had a little chat with her. Enjoy!
KUULPEEPS: Heeeeeeyyyy!!!! Edith Adasi Ayarkwa. Describe yourself in one word.
ARAYA: lol….Extraordinary! Everything I do, everything I touch is special
KUULPEEPS: Your name (Araya) how did you come about it?
ARAYA: I formed ‘Araya’ out of my surname Ayarkwa, which was given to me by my father. The name is of sentimental value to me because my love for music started from my Dad. When I was a kid, he would play the Piano and I would sing along. And he is one of my biggest inspirations too so it felt right to coin a name from his.
KUULPEEPS: We are curious… where did you learn to Ballet?
ARAYA: It is basically self-taught, watching videos on youtube, months and years of practice. What I do, is a fusion of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. So I took my love for Contemporary Dance and the freedom that comes with it, bent the rules of Ballet a little, and mixed it up and then Voila! So you can say that what I do is a little unconventional.
KUULPEEPS: How long have you been a Ballerina?
ARAYA: More than 6 years now. Is it difficult to be a ballerina? Very. Lol. Your feet hurt all the time, you have to ignore all your favourite junk food to stay in shape. And that can be hard sometimes. But the joy is in being able to do what you enjoy and in teaching others.
KUULPEEPS: Oh. You do Ballet Instruction too?
ARAYA: Yes I do. I have quite a few eager students. We meet on a regular. I am hoping more and more people will join.
KUULPEEPS: In terms of music, what type of music do you do?
ARAYA: I do Afro Pop, Afro Soul… I do Hi Life too.
KUULPEEPS: How do you fuse your music with your Dance?
ARAYA: Music goes with Dance. As a child, I realized that I always wanted to express each and every note I sang in a dance. So I decided to add Dance to my music so that people would not only hear my music, but they would also see music in my dance. On a personal level also, I try to transfer the emotion, feeling and energy that my music brings into Dance.
KUULPEEPS: Aside all these, you Model as well as have a professional career. How do you cope?
ARAYA: Balancing the type of arts that I do with an 8-5 has never been easy. Especially in this part of the world. The professional work is where most of my income comes from. Sometimes you would have to focus on that because that is what puts food on the table. But on the other hand, you cannot let your passion die too. It has not been easy, but I am determined so I find a balance. It’s all part of the #GirlHustleMovement💪
KUULPEEPS: Who are your favourite artists?
ARAYA: Who I listen to mostly depends on my mood. So I hardly have a particular artist I listen to. But I am a real fan of myself.
KUULPEEPS: What was the 1st show you played at and how did it go?
ARAYA: Umm I think it was November to Remember in Sunyani. With MzVee and Patoranking on the bill. It went really well for me. I felt so alive.
KUULPEEPS: If that is your best experience, what has your worst experience been as a Musician/Ballerina/Model?
ARAYA: Once my team and I had to roam around Accra looking for a nice place to do a shoot. We got sacked from one vicinity to another. We spent the whole day roaming and searching. Ended up with nothing. Even got chased by a dog in one hood. At the end of the day, it was funny. But at the moment, it was absolutely terrifying.
KUULPEEPS: But would you say that is your favourite moment?
ARAYA: lol…oh no… I posted a Ballet shoot I did on Twitter and within hours, there were about 10k retweets. It felt good to know that people who did not know me personally appreciated my art.
Hello Twitter. I am a Ghanaian Ballet and Contemporary dance Instructor. Kindly Retweet, my next costumer may be on your TL. pic.twitter.com/6NVp7MHxM4
— Araya (@Araya_gh) June 21, 2018
KUULPEEPS: Must have been a nice feeling for you. All the best with your career, Araya. We hope to see you on the “big screens”.
You can connect with Araya;
Facebook: Araya Afrika
Here’s a link to one of Araya’s Videos on her YouTube channel, Enjoy and don’t forget to subscribe.