Teneille Craig

Iziegbe Odigie aka Izzy

Teneille Craig
Iziegbe Odigie aka Izzy

Iziegbe Odigie aka Izzy

CHOREOGRAPHER

Before Nigeria’s own Iziegbe “Izzy” Odigie was a viral star and choreographer (a 2015 video of her on stage with Ugandan artist Eddy Kenzo solidified her status as an influential dancer), she was a student hesitant to lean into her full self. Now, as a 22-year-old Afrofusion dancer, she’s come into her own as a sought after choreographer, a co-founder of  TRŸBE Dancerz (a group of female African dancers), and an inspiration to young girls searching for their identity and purpose. She’s accomplished a lot in recent years—creating viral choreography, dancing in music videos and influencing trends —but she sees her impact in pushing African culture to the forefront as her biggest job to date. Here, she details to OkayAfrica how the power of dance and African culture transformed her life.

The feeling of purpose that [dance] gives me brings me a lot of joy. I feel like I'm making an impact in pushing the African culture to the world stage and showing others another path they too can follow. The challenges in this line of work is just constantly having to prove yourself and sometimes seeing the ignorance people have towards other aspects of the entertainment industry. It’s baffling.

For a long time, I felt like I had to suppress a part of my identity because my culture was ridiculed in the western world. When I was able to finally find the confidence and space to fully be, it felt like I could now understand myself, therefore giving me the clarity to tackle the world. I regretted not doing it earlier. I hope to inspire the youth out there to not be afraid. To be themselves completely and to teach that suppressing a side of you isn't really living life. I get messages every day saying how much I've motivated someone to get up and dance or to get up and chase their dreams. That's a feeling like no other.

*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity