As a primary school student Nyanjuma danced hip hop and was introduced to Jungle City founder Cat Pwiti, who began to teach her along with others from Melbourne’s west.
From there Nyanjuma’s love for dance grew, her skills improved and she fell in love with dancehall and the culture. In year 9 she began to take dance seriously, exploring different dance styles, performing around Melbourne, and teaching casually at Jungle City.
“I’ve been dancing ever since, thanks to Cat and a few others from the west who were a big part of my journey,” says Nyanjuma.
“I’m a 20-year-old South Sudanese and grew up in Melbourne’s mighty West. When I’m not grooving with the Jungle City crew I’m a nursing student, a project designer and facilitator for youth, and a food and beverage attendant – so you can call me multi-faceted,” she says.
Nyanjuma is also a member of all-female dancehall and Afro dance group and mentor program Culture Queenz, that started in the heart of Melbourne’s west, and enjoys casual classes in hip-hop and house.
While COVID-19 changed many things, Nyanjuma has been incredibly inspired by the Jungle City community’s resilience – from dancing together on Zoom to socially distanced dancing by Coburg Lake.
“I love that people from Jungle City always come together even when times are tough to share one passion: dance.”
“I owe all gratitude to Cat. She has taught me everything I know about dance through all those years. The torch is shared with my dance mentor Lee who has helped me refine my skills and confidence, amongst many other things,” says Nyanjuma.
“These women inspire me to respectfully not settle for less than I deserve as an artist in the dance industry.”
For Nyanjuma, dancing gives her a chance to unload the worries of the week and ultimately have a moment between her body and the music.
“I’ve discovered my passion for dance and what styles have a special connection with my body,” says Nyanjuma.
“I’ve also learnt so many stories from different people that serve as a reminder of how dancing can be used for healing.”
Nyanjuma encourages anyone considering trying dance to go for it.
“Jungle City is welcoming to everyone willing to try, regardless of their experience, and to learn about dance culture. It is especially great for those who want to try different dance styles.”