'Use discouragement as motivation' - Zidan Xqlusiv dancing his way out of the ghetto
In accordance with the common goal of most 'ghetto' youths, Sedon Coke of Yallahs in St Thomas had always dreamt of a day when he would be his family's one-way ticket out of poverty. The dream also saw him becoming an impactful young man who would be remembered and appreciated for the work that he has done.
The only problem was, for him, dance was life, but where he came from, dancers were considered idlers and the talent seen only as a pastime activity.
But were they wrong!
Coke, who goes by the name Zidan Xqlusiv, told The Gleaner that he started dancing at the end of his high-school years in 2005 but only began to take it seriously eight years ago.
The now-28-year-old is a professional dance instructor and choreographer who has travelled to and worked in over 25 countries across the world, including Israel, Bolivia, Russia, Japan, Sweden, Austria and Slovakia, teaching classes of up to 300 students sometimes.
"'Dancing naa put yu nuh weh' are words I've heard constantly as it relates to the career path I chose. Many underestimated me, but there are those who also believed in my talent. Limits were set as to how far I'd reach, but I have defied all that and reached much further than they thought I would," Zidan said.
Giving a rundown of where it all began, the leader of Xqlusiv Dancers explained that though they had always been doing well, things skyrocketed for the group in 2011 when they started to make YouTube dance videos.
"My team, the Xqlusiv Dancers, also includes Pops, Dami, Hakeem, Sq, Chucky, Slimjay, Asti, Mikhal, Jaychin, Ceejay, Matic and Penny.
After the videos were uploaded to YouTube, we had people from all over the world coming to Jamaica and our home town in Yallahs to take dance lessons from us.
We also added international members to the group. They are Nina, Jasmin, Elina, Veroniha and Irie Sistaz," he said as he pointed out that the group continues to grow into a family of not only dancers, but also selectors, promoters and artistes.
Some of the tangible achievements the group has copped are the IRAWMA Award for Best Dance Group 2013, winning the World Reggae Dance Championship 2017, and earning first place on the Magnum Kings and Queens KFC Skankaz competition in 2017.
The dancehall ambassador, who overcame despite the naysayers, is advising others to take discouragement as motivation.
According to him: "Whenever people doubt you, be inspired and use it to make yourself stronger. Show them that you're better than what they expect of you. At the end of the day, it's about you and what you want, not them."