Introduction to Dance
In a recent interview with Mangala Mbangu also known as “Banga”, he makes it very clear that Dance has always been a passion for him. Within the interview, Mangala states, “Dancing for me was always in my blood, especially amongst my family. I just always had rhythm since a very young age.” Being born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mangala communicates that dancing came natural to him while dancing at family parties listening to music from his Congolese Roots. Mangala’s first dance moves were danced to the sounds of Congolese artists and to an african dance style called “Ndombolo”. After moving to America at 7 years old and spending most of his life in Lynn, Massachusetts, he easily transitioned to dancing and creating choreography to the sounds of Hip Hop, R&B and more. Being a self-taught Dancer, Mangala taught himself through watching music videos and imitating artists such as Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Usher, and Omarion, which led to Mangala teaching himself different styles of dance & choreography. Mangala mentions, “In middle school, I had to babysit my younger brothers everyday after school, so that’s when I would just watch music videos and learn all the choreography in it”. Surrounded by Boston’s diverse communities, Mangala was able to learn various dance styles such as Bachata, Salsa all the way to Zouk – needless to say his dance style is versatile. Mangala’s versatility with music interest and dance capabilities lead him to creating his own Brand, where he creates and experiments with Dance Choreography and conceptual creativity through video. When trying to better understand who or what inspires Mangala to continue his Brand, he states, “I definitely have people I admire, different creatives and friends, but my own potential is my biggest inspiration. What drives me everyday is where my potential can lead me & for my work to be seen at the highest heights.”
Entering the Limelight
Mangala started dancing at a young age, but his first big performance took place at his Middle school talent show his 8th Grade year at Thurgood Marshall Middle School. This moment was significantly important for two reasons: (1) It took Mangala’s Dance capabilities to new heights as he created the choreography for himself and his three other friends Jalen, Kennedy and Jordan, and (2) this was the moment all his classmates and friends realized he could dance, since he was mostly known for playing sports. Mangala mentions, “It’s funny because before that talent show no one had a clue I could dance. I never really danced in front of people after I came to America. I was juggling dance behind closed doors and sports for years, I barely would practice dance, but it came so naturally to me that I would just dance on my own time.” Transitioning into High School, Mangala mentions he would do more talent shows and when Teachers began to realize he was a dancer they would encourage him to “get the party started” at every school event.
The Start of Something New
As Mangala continued working on his dancing skills, He realized that he wanted to share his Art and creative abilities for the world to see, hence the birth of his dance concept videos – releasing his first official video in early 2014. Mangala mentions, “Looking back at the first video, it makes me laugh and I cringe because I can see how far I came and the evolution of my dance videos have grown so much.” When Asking Mangala how he felt about releasing his first video 7 years ago, he expressed, “I was excited and relieved because I was holding back for a while on putting stuff out being that I’m a perfectionist. I was always hard on myself, so it took me a while to be satisfied.” Mangala goes into details mentioning that he always loved storytelling with dance videos, stating, “I don’t know why, but concept videos always just interest me more than just doing basic dance videos. I’m pretty sure it comes from my love of storytelling.” Fast forwarding to 2021, Mangala has been no stranger to his dance concept videos, releasing numerous conceptual dance videos since 2014. Mangala highlights that creating dance concept videos were an outlet for him to express his creativity, though he initially struggled with understanding the Ideal length of time his videos should be. Understanding how long was “too long” was important to be able to achieve the perfect time frame for viewers to watch. The biggest changes that have come from Mangala’s concept videos over the years is his knowledge of dance, the quality of his videos and his understanding of viewers’ attention span. As music videos and film became shorter, Mangala noticed that there was a change occurring with viewers’ attention span. Better understanding of the change of viewer’s attention span was important to Mangala as he wanted to be sure viewers were engaged with his videos throughout the entirety of his video rather than skipping forward or dropping off midway through.
In order to gain a better understanding of how Mangala viewed his own success, I asked him about what he believed were his biggest accomplishments thus far. Mangala begins pointing to the moment Billboard Artist, BIA, started following him on Instagram after he uploaded a video to Russ’s platinum single, ‘Best on Earth’, which featured BIA. Being that BIA is also a Boston native, this caught her attention and eventually led to BIA attending one of Mangala’s Dance classes where he taught the choreography to ‘Best on Earth’. Mangala states, “It was very exciting for BIA to stop by, I know she’s a busy woman and she was only in Boston for two days, so for her to stop by my class, she’s forever a real one in my book for doing that. The students in my class were very excited since this was the first time any artist of BIA’s caliber attended a dance class in Boston.” Rap Superstar Russ also gave Mangala some words of encouragement, letting him know to continue pushing forward and to never stop creating. Mangala’s video to ‘Best on Earth’ gathered around 20K views on Instagram and over hundreds of comments. Another notable Musical Superstar, Chris Brown, noticed Mangala’s concept video that he created for his BillBoard #1 Song ‘Go Crazy’. Mangala states, “That was a very cool moment for me being that Chris Brown’s been my favorite artist since I was in 5th grade and someone I definitely will work with in the future. I’ve been dancing to his music for almost half my life. For him to see my work was a cool moment.” Throughout the pandemic caused by COVID-19, Mangala gave back to the Dance community by starting a Dance Challenge where he donated $500 to the person that could best perform his choreography to Chris Brown’s Song ‘City Girls’. The challenge was a success as participants were sending in videos from all over the United States from cities such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and even reached a global audience, getting participants from Nigeria. Mangala mentions, “It was a tough time in the beginning stages of the Pandemic. I know Dancers were not able to dance as much as they wanted to since dance studios were closed down, so I wanted to create a fun dance challenge to get dancers and people in general moving again. It was great to see everybody participating and just having fun, definitely something I would do again.”
In Mangala’s recent project, ‘Immortal’, Mangala takes us through a different creative experience – mixing an action packed thriller with his love of dance, captured all in one video. Immortal takes place in an abandoned warehouse in Boston, Massachusetts where Mangala and his trusted crew of Dancers carry out a masked robbery when they get the drop on a recent robbery that just took place minutes before. When hearing about the robbery, Mangala and his masked Crew set out to rob actor Kevin Gomes, who commited a robbery of nearly $500K. Mangala and his crew knew this would be an easy robbery, as some would say an Easy Lick”. Throughout the video, actor Kevin is frantically running away thinking he has only the police department to deal with. The video switches between the perspective of Kevin’s action post-robbery and Mangala and his crew looking for Kevin throughout the abandoned warehouse. The video offers uniqueness as viewers are not generally accustomed to this style when it comes to dance concept videos. The link to the full video will be under this article and shown on Mangala’s YouTube page (@Bangaofficial).
What’s to come
Over 8 years of creating dance concepts videos and 20+ years of Dancing, I needed to know what was in store for Mangala and what viewers can expect to see from him in the coming years. Mangala informs me that, “Definitely more videos in store for this year and I have what I call, ‘The Video of the Summer’ that’s underway. I’m trying to bring the fun back and I’m shifting my focus to that project in a few months and will probably start filming around July.” When asking more about Mangala’s creative journey, he mentions that it can lead everywhere. Mangala is embracing all kinds of creative projects ranging from short films, vlogs, and eventually to even writing books. Lastly, I asked Mangala to share where he sees himself in 10 years. He responded saying, “You know… life’s unpredictable. I have a lot of goals and dreams, but I’m focused on this current moment and just being present for everything that I have going on now. I hope for the best, but all we really can do is just hope since we never really know what life can bring. I try not to be married to the idea of achieving specific goals during specific timeframes, I just let the Universe work it’s magic. As long as I’m living in my truth, I know things will happen when they’re supposed to.” It’s clear to see Mangala’s future is bright, his creativity and ambition will always set him apart from others. After interviewing him for a few hours his likable personality and charismatic energy was great to be around. With decades of Dance experience, it’s evident that Mangala is still hungry to continue to grow as a Dancer and Artist. He is also someone more than willing to take on new challenges and explore different creative outlets. With his ambition to venture into multiple creative paths, there’s no telling the projects that we may see from Mangala over the next few years. Whether Mangala is sharing his art through Dance Concept Videos or new Dance Challenges, two things are for sure: (1) Mangala has a lot of creativity to share with the world, and (2) there’s no doubt Mangala will be here for the long run.
YOUTUBE LINK: ( Bangaofficial ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5LU8t0nFu0
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/Banga.official