Kadafi Mulula - I found a new family at DMU
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been trying to impress my dad. He brought me to England to do what he couldn’t - to have a better education and a better life - and I love him dearly for that.
I grew up watching him play football, and looking back, I think I only fell in love with the sport to get his approval. He thought that I could have a good life if I followed a career in sport, but it was his dream, not mine. I’m still waiting to hear him say: “I’m proud of you, son.”
Dance came into my life unexpectedly, when a teacher spotted me messing around and asked me to join the school’s dance company. I decided to go along, thinking it wasn’t going to be an everyday thing. Surprisingly, I ended up pretending I had late after-school football practice so I could keep attending.
For the first time in my life I wasn’t trying to impress anyone. I thought only sports could make me feel intrigued, passionate and hungry to learn more. But dance made me feel all that and more - it made me feel like I had my own identity and like it was where I belonged.
The problem is that when I got to sixth form, I had to choose a sports scholarship because I couldn’t see my dad agreeing to me doing dance. My passion for dance was so strong though, that I continued doing it outside of my school work and football practice.
Even though I was mentally and physically drained, nothing was going to keep me away from dancing. I knew then that I didn’t want to go on to academy level football. My teachers ended up inviting my dad in without me knowing, to talk to him about letting me switch to performing arts in my second year of sixth form.
My dad wasn’t happy about it, but he had to accept it. Even though I lost my dad’s respect and the support of a lot of my family, it was a game-changer for me. I got a BTEC diploma that let me apply to study dance at university.
I had lots of unconditional offers, but when I came to DMU for my audition it was literally the life I was imagining for myself. Everyone was so friendly and I just knew I was going to find a new family here. It’s been everything I hoped for and more.
I respect all of my teachers at DMU, but my personal tutor Mel is the one I would be heartbroken if I ever let down. She really showed up for me and inspired me to strive for nothing less than my potential. Her teaching is so unique and her words are so moving. Mel is one of the tutors that I’m just so grateful to have crossed paths with.
I also made friends for life at DMU. It all started when my flatmate Leroy convinced me to go to a hip hop society taster and from there I met loads of talented people who have helped me to grow as a person and as a dancer.
Getting involved with the Code Crew dance group was brilliant – they’re like family to me. We practiced together all over campus and we entered competitions around the country, and even went to one in Barcelona. I feel like those experiences made me a stronger performer on my degree.
I’m now doing a master’s with a professional company and I’m loving it. Making it as a dancer would be my way of saying a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who has and continues to support me, right from my school days up until now. I’m so lucky to have met so many people who are proud to support me, watch me perform and treat me like family.
Making it as a dancer will also hopefully help me to show other young people in similar situations that they can follow their dreams too.
I know that choosing to study dance cost me the support of most of my family, but coming to DMU brought me to the most amazingly talented and caring people that I can truly call my family. I shall forever be grateful and blessed to have received this amount of love, because there is no better feeling than being accepted, appreciated and respected.