If truly dance is an outward expression of inward appreciation, Arthur Maira, a dance instructor at Crawford International School, is a jolly fellow.
“Dancers are happy people,” he says. “Dance is a language that comes from an expressive heart.”
And what dance move best captures his life at the moment?
“A fast-paced dance that’s elegant and detailed,” he says.
This man is thankful for many other things, among them a résumé that reads like an outline of nearly all prestigious schools in Kenya. Arthur has instructed dance at Brookhouse School, Braeburn, Kenton College Preparatory School, and West Nairobi School.
Since 2018, he has been a full-time employee of Crawford International School near Tatu City in Kiambu, where, besides dance teaching, he has administrative duties.
“I serve as the assistant deputy principal for the school’s Foundational Level. I’m also the head of the cultural department at Crawford,” he says.
Arthur is an entrepreneur too, and founder of Dance Definitive Point, which offers dance club services in private schools in Kenya. Through this business, which employs 15 choreographers full-time, he has worked with about 14 schools.
He also runs Dance Cradle, borne out of Dance Definitive Point, but which features a different business model.
“We initiated this programme to cater for toddlers aged between two-and-half years and five in private homes and gated communities. Expatriates make up most of our clientele.”
Instructing dance for children of Kenya’s well-to-do families must pay well, I ask. Arthur, though, is cagey about his income, saying instead: “I get a sense of fulfilment by adding value to these children. That’s more gratifying than the pay.”
Beyond the dance floor, he is a poet and a playwright.
Arthur’s artsy path, though, did not happen by accident. “I come from a background of artistes. My father raised us on proceeds from a curios shop, by painting and brokering artworks. And we were always jamming to Afro music as children. Tabu Ley was a big factor in our house, thanks to my dad,” he says.
At 39, Arthur is coursing a stage in life with heightened activity and breakneck speed, like break-dance. He has a family to fend for, a day job, ongoing studies, and dreams to realise.
“I’m studying for a diploma in Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE). I’m also a student at Pan-African Christian University where I’m taking a degree course in business leadership.”
That in addition to leadership roles at Baptist Church and other societies. How does he manage all these roles, if at all? His response is nearly as self-deprecating as it is philosophical. “When you overlook the process, you undermine your progress. I must go through these stages to get to where I desire to be.”
I wonder where that is. “To become a better leader. I’d like to take up leadership consultancy in the long-term.”
On what family life means to him, Arthur says he was brought up in an environment of responsibility, diligence and they had the freedom to become what they wanted to be. Now he is modelling that in his three children, two of whom study at Crawford International School.
Arthur notes that discovering that excellence is a habit to improve self rather than a standard has liberated him “from trying to match other people.”
“Am I serving my purpose? I believe the greatest accomplishment is to use your skills to elevate other people to shine just like you.”
When I ask him how good he is on the dance floor, he whoops with laughter and says in nearly dance-like staccato cadence: “I’d give myself a solid 8/10. I’ve worked with better dancers. But I can’t touch ballet dancing.”
But now he is slowly pirouetting away from the creative side of his business “to focus on managerial issues.”
“Most of our artistes focus exclusively on their creative element. Consequently, they lack administrative qualities necessary in every business, including art,” he says.
To that effect, he is pooling artistes and teaching them other skills to help them a solid footing in the art business.
Arthur believes humans are a sum total of other people’s contributions to their lives, particularly “individuals who take a risk on us and invest in our potential.”
Jenny Coetzee, the managing director and principal of Crawford International School, is one such person to him.
“Jenny chanced with me. She has supported me in my growth journey,” he says.