Tileh Pacbro is the posterchild for self-made. The young dancer-choreographer simply zeroes in on what he wants, trusts his guts and gives it his all. He shares his success story with ODHIAMBO NEEMA.
From the outside looking in, one could say that David Otieno, alias Tileh the Dance King, was born with a very large and shiny silver spoon. With a stunning dance career, a growing dance academy, the fastest- growing YouTube channel in Kenya and a casual nod of acknowledgement from A-listers such as Cardi B and Justin Bieber, it is easy to think his start was just as glamorous. It was anything but.
From the tender age of 6, Tileh always knew he was born to dance. For him, he says, dance is more than a passion. It is his life, one he is willing to give up, and do everything, for. However, while he has always been passionate about dance, the fire to actually make it his life was fanned when everything went up in flames. Their house burnt down, along with all their possessions.
Life took a downward spiral and soon he was living in a Children's Home. He vividly remembers how difficult it was to live there, because while there, you fully depend on well wishers. Meals are hard to come by, and they can only count on donations. This means that starving and missing meals was not unheard of. At some point, it became too unbearable for him, so he took to the streets.
This experience-living off the streets and being homeless, is what shaped him. It is what birthed his desire to work extremely hard in dance and to succeed. He wanted to get his friends off the streets and show them that hard work pays- and dance was going to be his ticket to a better life.
Coming from a typical African setup, his announcement wasn't followed by wild enthusiasm and ululations. His old man and siblings were in open opposition to the idea. In fact, only his mother supported his decision. He had decided to fully pursue dance and even went ahead to defer his University studies to focus on his dream.
Fortunately for him, he stuck to his guns and is now reaping the benefits. His academy, Dance 98, is growing into the biggest dance school in East Africa and he has cemented his name as one of the country's best dancers. He has even gone ahead to get featured in CNN's African Voices: Changemakers, where he talks about his desire to change how dance is perceived in Kenya.
His channel has grown exponentially during this Coronavirus era. He credits this to being flexible and creating timely content. He is grateful because quarantine made people stay home and develop a hunger for online content. The audience found him ready with an existing YouTube channel; Tileh Pacbro.
The 23-year-old advises young people to be flexible, in order to adapt to the ever changing times. In addition to this, he emphasizes that in order to succeed, you should set your targets and goals, then draw a plan based off them. After that, commit all your focus to that one plan and pursue it singularly.
" There is no shortcut, so be ready to work hard," he says in his parting shot, as we conclude the interview.
Featured image courtesy of YouTube