A Day In The Life of A Black British Artist By Michael ‘Bagsy’ Oladele
Tea or Coffee? That’s the herculean choice I have to make every morning when deciding what to have with my King like breakfast. They say we should eat like royalty in the mornings, so I try to. A bowl of oats with hot milk topped with sliced bananas drizzled with honey or, a handful of raisins; a touch of cinnamon, two slices of wholemeal toasted bread with peanut butter or a high protein chocolate spread, some chopped fruit and a protein bar.
Breakfast is a whole mood baby.
There is a glass of apple or orange juice to wash it down and then the big decision, Tea or Coffee. What’s your go-to choice? In fact, I think you should make a tasty brew for yourself, it’ll go well with this read. I’m an early bird and I like to train calisthenics, weights, and cardio at my local gym in East Croydon before breakfast.This morning chef special happens after I come back from the gym.
Let me properly introduce myself, I’m Michael Oladele also known as Bagsy. I am a Black British performing artist from south London, and I eat, train and think like an athlete. If you didn’t know already, dancers are athletes.
Dance is my life. Especially Waacking.
What is Waacking? It’s a dance from the 70’s born in the gay clubs of LA, performed to disco and funk music. It normally comprises of fast arm movements, powerful dynamic technique, emotional performances, and the dramatic emulation of 1950’s actors. Think Gene Kelly, The Nicholas Brothers and Cyd Charisse dancing to disco in the club. It is fierce.
This dance has helped me see so much potential in myself, it’s helped improve my character, become much more open minded and grow in confidence seeing the value in my self-worth. Most importantly it has helped me become more of a man a better human being. Emotional, compassionate, unapologetic, vulnerable connecting with both male and female energy.
Since becoming more busy with dance work, judging competitions, lectures, performances and teaching opportunities I decided that if I am to take this career seriously, I’d have to make changes to my daily routine and that meant looking to Olympic athletes for training regimes and inspiration. I do love a good box of spicy chicken wings and the ‘occasional’ gourmet burger though. Don’t judge me.
Back to my schedule. With breakfast comes a good Japanese anime series relentlessly watched with zen focus trying to pick out the many hidden life lessons per episode. Did I mention that I watch anime without subtitles? I speak Japanese fluently. I used to live in Japan for 4years teaching Mathematics and English in schools across the country. Whilst there I forged my path as a dancer and choreographer learning from the world’s best in Osaka.
Documentaries, fitness training videos, martial art tutorials and a plethora of dance footage is something I also watch daily as I’m not only a dancer, but I teach dance, I’m a professional dance competitor, screen combat artist, stunt performer, model, actor, choreographer, creative director and fitness enthusiast. I do what I can to facilitate my abilities and constantly develop them.
I’m a big reader too, non-fiction mainly learning about the mindsets of not just great athletes but great business minds too. Think and Grow Rich, How to Make Friends and Influence People, How to stop Worrying and Start Living, The 5 love Languages, Viewpoints, Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, The Power of Now and one of my all-time favourites Body Mind Mastery. All these books are inspiring and engaging to read learning about myself, how people think and act and importantly react to situations that leads to their enlightening success.
It’s afternoon now and I’m probably either teaching an online class or a private session with clients in person, doing administrative work, getting ready for rehearsals for a show, creating content for my social media or preparing to go to my evening training.
This weekend I will be performing a solo piece at Sadler’s Wells Theatre on 3rd and 4th July for Breakin’ Convention hosted by the world renowned Jonzi D. It’s called Surrender and tells part of my journey as a dancer discovering who I am as a man born in a world filled with endless expectations, animosity and challenges faced in the creative industry, and the ability to accept all that you are in the pursuit for self-love. It really isn’t easy forging a successful career in dance but that’s the beauty of the story.
Being an artist is a full-time job, non-stop around the clock. You are your own: publicist, accountant, nutritionist, marketer, trainer, designer, investor and manager. You have to put the work in, you have to stay ready. I try daily, it’s not easy but the rewards are fantastic. I’ve always believed staying relevant and active in your industry is vital for longevity even before the pandemic. My daily ethos goes: If people don’t know you nor see you, they can’t follow your work or even give you work. Networking is vital, reputation is everything.
So, my mornings are for conditioning the body, afternoons for growing the mind and building the empire, and my evenings are for feeding the soul training in my craft – acrobatics, martial arts and dance. They are all connected in movement and mindset and thus help develop my character and strengthen the skill sets.
My evening training is complete, serotonin levels high and I’m on my way home listen to music that makes me feel like a superhero or I’m thinking about choreography or the next big project. Before I end my day relaxing watching an epic drama series, I do my best to call my mum.
I like to check-in on mum. I don’t get to see her often because of the nature of my work so it’s nice to simply say good night or hear her gossip girls’ stories about work or church. Even though my mum didn’t quite like me becoming a performing artist I am very close to my mum after all she was the one who gave me my first beat to dance to, in the womb, to her heartbeat. So technically it’s mum’s fault I’m a dancer. Just saying.
So that’s it, a day in the life of a dancer, loosely structured filled with goodness and rich content with a plan that’s organic and malleable. Anything can change that is life, but as long as I stay positive, keep active both physically and mentally there will always be something to gain from the day. We have to celebrate the small wins, create micro goals, rest, reflect and simply continue learning from the greatest class on earth.
Breakin Convention: Breakout Convention is on 3 & 4 July at Sadler’s Wells, find out more and book your tickets here.
Bagsy performs on both nights, follow him on @bagsyofficial