In what could be described as the most exciting family reality TV show in Nigeria, the fifth season of the Maltina Dance All (MDA) regional auditions lived up to its billing as the curtains finally fell.
During the auditions, the judges selected people who would represent their respective families at the Maltina Academy in August. MDA is a unique TV reality show where families strive to outdo each other through the mastery of various types of dance steps ranging from Wazobia, Jive, Pantomime, Samba to Salsa.
This year’s regional auditions took place in Abuja, Enugu, Port-Harcourt, Ibadan, Lagos and Benin and were undoubtedly memorable in the hearts of millions of Nigerians by the excitement and buzz surrounding them. Season 5’s MDA auditions featured an unprecedented number of contestants across the 6 regions where the auditions were held. Contestants came out in droves displaying their dancing skills in intense try-outs.
The first day of the auditions witnessed a contest within the four different age categories of 5–12 years, 13–18 years, 19-30 years and 30 years and above, where contestants had the chance of winning Honda Generators, Samsung TV sets and Samsung Home Theatres. While the second day, only dancers between the ages of 18-30 years competed to qualify for a place in the MDA Academy.
The auditions, which took off in Abuja and Enugu simultaneously, were filled with thrill and excitement. In Abuja, The ultra modern conference hall of the NICON Luxury Hotel played host to some of the best dancers across the nation’s capital. At the end of it all, the judges picked Bukunmi Olukitibi, Emmanuel Atunonwu, Esther Dare, Pius Apeh, Patrick Dare, Chinonso Omeire, Paul Odigie and Onome Utogo as winners for that Region.
Enugu presented an electrifying and charged atmosphere for the auditions. Muyiwa Osinaike, veteran dancer, choreographer and one of the judges said that the Enugu auditions this year were better than past years’. This he attributed to better awareness and more mileage for the event. The eight finalists comprised of four young men; Ezuika Justice Chinedu, Chimezie Patterson Emeka, Achor Ifeanyi George, Nnajiofor Obinna Onyekachi and four young women; Anosike Sophia Chibugo, Iyori Ivory Dosa, Ugboka Mercy and Anigbogu Ukamaka.
The oil rich city of Port-Harcourt came alive when MDA 5 stormed the Atrium Centre for auditions. Considering it was the first time MDA held auditions in the region, the turnout was overwhelming with over 700 contestants trying out to be a part of MDA. It was a hectic but rewarding task for the judges to determine winners in the various categories. After much contemplation, the judges were able to distinguish eight dancers who exhibited exceptional dance skills – one of the criteria for admittance into the academy. These eight include; Jerry Ukadike, Ebimene Ekubo, Ogechi Chidi, Prince Welekwe, Jones Pius Sampson, Esther Monday, Melanie Onyebuagu and Onyenwe Cynthia.
The ancient and quiet city of Ibadan was not left out of the excitement when the MDA challenged the inhabitants of the city to “show their swagger.” Being a first in the Pace-Setter state, MDA still recorded an upsurge of participants at the Jogor Centre, Liberty Road.
One of the highlights in the Ibadan auditions is the story of Biachi Gloria, the first runner-up in the 13-19 years category and proud winner of a television set. She was full of excitement and joy. Showing enthusiasm for her win, she said, “This is my fifth year in MDA regional auditions and I have always made it to the semi-final stage but never to the finals. In the first three editions of MDA, I auditioned at Lagos but last year I traveled to Lagos, Benin and Kaduna and still didn’t make it beyond the semi-finals. I went to Abuja this year but still did not make it, now I auditioned at Ibadan and finally I am a proud winner of a Television set. I am so grateful to Maltina.” The eight finalists to emerge from Ibadan are; Peterside Promise, Michael Owolabi, Aina Damilola, Abisola Salawu, Dada Olalekan, Fashina Olakunle, Ngwu Kanayo and Ogechi Ochiagha.
The MDA 5 regional auditions in Lagos and Benin which also held simultaneously signaled an end to the regional auditions. The Benin regional auditions which held at Excalibur hotel saw impressive performances by dance contestants. Bimbo Obafunwa, a dancer and one of the judges at the event said “We have auditioned in Benin for more than four years and it has been quite impressive. Benin has a good turnout of people every year and more so, we had very good dancers with a lot of potentials”. The final eight chosen from the Benin auditions include; Daniel Victor, Edoho Princess Enobong, Joy Efe, Azikwe Emmanuel, Akata Princess Omamekpe, Joy Ovuakporaye, Karo Etudunwun and Kelvin Idahosa.
The regional auditions in Lagos proved to be one of the most interesting, considering that Lagos is the focal point of entertainment in Nigeria. The anticipation and excitement at the National Theatre, venue of the Lagos audition, was executed amidst palpable excitement. Thousands of contestants thronged the venue of the auditions in the early hours of the morning all set to show their skills. The contestants displayed a high level of dexterity and know-how of many dance styles which proved a feat for the judges to decide upon. At the end of the keenly contested auditions; Ogechi Okuledogu, Omukoyem Catherine, Gloria Biachi, Ayo Ojueromi, Ali Praise, Adekpe Kerry, Michael Obi and Damilola Titiloya emerged as representatives of the Lagos region.
Speaking at one of the regional auditions, Muyiwa Osinaike, veteran dancer, choreographer and one of the judges said that the auditions were interesting and very entertaining. He based his criteria for selecting the final eight on five basic standards. First is the dancer’s creative ability, then his or her knowledge of different dance styles, ability to teach and learn fast, stamina and brand fitness, i.e. ability to align with the Maltina brand values and represent the brand well.
During the press briefing about MDA 5 on June 28, Maltina promised to make MDA 5 bigger, better and bolder. In this light, Nigerian Breweries Plc announced an upward review of the prize money. Following the new arrangement, the winning family will now take home N5 million in addition to a brand new family car, while the first and second runners up will take home N1 million and N500, 000 respectively.