Bold is just a word before you take a look at our Cover Star for L’Officiel December, Jeny Bonseng. When asked about what kind of legacy she wants to build, she said “I love that people can identify with me in different ways, even as a woman; as an African woman, as a Black woman, as a dancer and more.” Jeny Bonseng represents the voice of the troubled and she herself has been the victim of hatred and violence. Check out her enlightening views about various aspects of the society and know about her and what she does!
Who is Jeny Bonsenge?
I was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium. My parents are originally from Congo. I started my professional career as a dancer at the age of 12 in Belgium. Around 6 years old, I was inspired by artists such as Ciara and Missy Elliot. These two very talented Black women have motivated me to keep chasing my dreams. Dance movies such as Step Up and You Got Served also inspired me tremendously. In Europe, I grew up closely in my African culture and Hip Hop was a major influence in my upbringing. Back in the day, the Afro’ Beats culture was not as popular as it is now but I wanted to find a way to honour my African roots. Everywhere I went, people always recognized that I had an extra touch while dancing to Hip Hop. They were able to identify my African heritage through my dance. In 2018, I observed Afro’ Dance gaining more popularity. I started receiving a lot of attention internationally for my Afro’ Dance style. People wanted me to teach more African dances which was a crazy experience for me! In 2019, I created my dance school, AfroHouse Belgium, and I had the chance to have students from different backgrounds attend. It was cool to see them enjoying African dance and culture. While teaching the children, I met Anae. She is a very special child who was also born and raised in Belgium like me. I helped her discover African dances and cultures. We decided to create videos together to celebrate dance through love, understanding, and compassion. As her mentor, I have seen the progress she has made and I am very proud of her. The Ellen Degeneres show reached out to us and asked us to appear on the show in Los Angeles. This experience was one of the best days of my life. This opportunity greatly impacted my dance career and has opened so many doors for me which I am forever grateful for. Before appearing on Ellen’s show, I was an English and Dutch school teacher. That opportunity has really helped me to become a full-time professional dancer and now, I have made dancing my career. My former school teacher position has expanded my knowledge to learn different languages and cultures which has made me wiser. Every day as a coach and influencer, I do my best to always stay positive. I really want to empower others, especially kids and young people who look up to me.
What drives you?
In life, I am driven by positivity and happiness. I know it seems cliche but, every day when I wake up in the morning, I strive to be a happy person. As a child, I remember telling my mom that my goal in life was to be happy working a job that I love. Today, I am so grateful to be able to do exactly what I always wanted to do. Happiness makes you limitless! Some of the things that I love the most are dancing, meeting new people, travelling the world, being with my family, listening to music, watching movies, being with my community, visiting Africa, indulging in my culture, as well as discovering other cultures. I am a very spiritual person and being close to God means a lot to me. Especially, listening to and singing the gospel in church keeps me grounded and feeling complete.
This edition of LOFFICIEL is focused on the legacy. What does the word legacy mean to you? What kind of legacy would you like to build?
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