Let the house rat hear this and go tell it to the bush rat, let the bush rat get the message and go tell it to the mountain...
I have the honor of writing this note, for a brief introduction of myself... it goes this way.
Lets say i'm Qudus Onikeku, a Nigerian choreographer and performer of international reputation, i currently enjoy a scholarship from the French government at the prestigious Ecole nationale superieur des arts du cirque. in France, i have toured over 27 countries across the globe ( no shakara intended!!!). So that's that
My principal purpose for writing this, is to bring your attention to a dance workshop i plan to put in place in Lagos during the month of April (7th- 12th April 2008), followed by a public presentation and a screening of a documentary film of (do we need cola cola to dance?) my recent project that was carried out last summer in 6 African countries (Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Mozambique, kenya and Cameroon).
it is my own little way of sharing with others and making things happen locally in the Dance scene.
A week workshop that will take on an intensive trip on making dancers understand ways of becoming indispensable for the audience, how to move like tigers in silence, understanding the power of immobility on stage, their rapport with the earth, with the space and with the group, becoming immune and authoritatively demanding the presence and participation of the audience and understanding what it is that makes a performer emit flames and be on fire on stage.
What is contemporary dance? A question most Africans ask these days
... Contemporary dance is absolute nothing
What then is art?
... Art ... Art is... No - thing. and can be anything
There is a popular Yoruba proverb that says, "Eniyan nii mbe labe oro, ti oro fi ndun". Which could be possibly translate to “It is the man that exist in phantoms that make phantoms make sound”. It is however, the relationship between the cognizance of the creator and the subject matter, between desire and reality that makes a "master piece".
It is the being in our human that makes what we call art, or the several branding we give to dance worthwhile. whatever form of art we get involved in is only a material or rather a palpable representation of the playful or melancholic “self” of the creator. What we should lay emphasis on is the “self” who has a need and a strong urge to express him or herself.
Dance is a form of expression and it should remain so, if contemporary dance is now going out of its literal sense, then i'm not part of that, if its becoming a branding or commodity that is specific to a certain kind of movement or expression or people, then i wont be part of that hegemony.
DANCE AND IDENTITY
African dance scene is in a state of puerility, a state that needs a revival; call it Contemporary dance, tag it Contemporary-African dance or even Afro-fusion, Traditional dance or Modern dance, name it Hip Hop dance, Salsa dance, Dance Drama, Dance Theatre, Acrobatic dance or whatsoever, so far its location or destination is Africa and has been destined for the theatre space, for public consummation and being part of the wonderful world of creative dance, those branding is not the most essential, its not the nickname given to a baby that will determine his destiny, i think the audience cares less about what we call it.
I call it African dance, that already has complicated the whole affair, meanwhile, this branding of mine is not guided nor misguided by a particular culture, ethnic, religion nor by political or salt water boundary, it is a branding that is solely a matter of location and destination. Since Africa is situated in a particular point in the world map, in this manner, it becomes a mere geographical expression and the location i'm referring to is also in the same methodology, not determined by all these identifying elements i have stated above, the location is not somewhere situated outside the peripheries of the "conscious SELF", its three dimentional space might physically be anywhere in the world but its mind and conscious location is Africa, while its primary audience lies amongst these sects.
I have tagged this workshop “Collection of those things that burns in us”, this then becomes one of the few initiations that refuse to discriminate between the several forms of dance that already exist in contemporary Africa, our aim is not to romanticize a particular form of dance, but on the contrary to “de-individualize” and bring all these forms of body expressions, to a platform where they could be individually or collectively conscious and aware of those micro-organs that enhance our movements, searching for those peaceful barbaric moment where there is no capitalist, no despots, just forming a body without organs.
The French has found a better expression of making the characterization of dance obvious, je danse which mean “i dance”, has been systematically made obvious from je faire de la danse which literally translate to "i do dance", “i make dance”, the verb that exist in between “i” and “dance” has said it all. This initiation will however distinguish a mere dancer who “dances” from one who “make dance” for a living.
The projects is produced and partly funded by Yk Project in collaboration with Gongbeat Productions. with the support of the National theatre and French cultural center.
Thanks for taking time to learn about this initiation and hope to you at the national arts theatre for the public presentation on the 12th of April 2008