Update from Qudus' blog

Nov 29, 2008

Collection of those things that burn in us

THE event was a union of two young and established Nigerian performers of high esteem and international reputation. Isioma Williams, a percussionist and choreographer based in the United Kingdom and Qudus Onikeku, a dancer and acrobat based in France. The event was a workshop titled, ‘Collection of those things that burn in us. Yejide Gbenga-Ogundare and Bunmi Obarotimi report.

A dancer and a percussionist, though different, share a passion. Both are artistes – they feel every passing moment with poetry, burn on stage like innocent bodies set ablaze and appear to be innocent of their naivety. Percussionists recite poems with the beat of the drum while a dancer narrates the poem with body movements. Qudus Onikeku, a Nigerian dancer and performer of international reputation, who currently enjoys a scholarship from the French government at the prestigious Ecole nationale superieur des arts du cirque, Chalons en champagne, France and Isioma Williams collaborated to set poetry in motion with dance and drums at the Conference Hall of the National Art Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.

The event titled, ‘Collection of those things that burn in us’ which came up recently was a bumper package. It featured a workshop session, public presentation and screening of a documentary film that followed Qudus’ recent project, carried out last summer in six African countries and a poetry dance performance titled ‘Afropolitan’.

Afropolitan is focused on the insincere friendship between Africa and the western world - the negative impression that people of the western world have about Africa as a nation and the effect of these negative thoughts on the people of Africa.

In his presentation, Qudus said, “between you and I, Africa has been seen and told from the western eyes, unconsciously, we tend to see ourselves from the slants of the western judgment and you and I continue to dance around these laid down stereotypes.”

The main message of Afropolitan is that Africans should learn to develop at their pace and not imitate or look up to the westerners and wait for them to develop the economy of their nation for them. Qudus believes that Africans need to look inward and also run at their pace; a steady pace that is peculiar to them instead of chasing developed countries at the detriment of their socio economic development. “Let you and I ask each other, if auto-mobile was made by Africans, what would have been the speed limit? Because we tend to run too fast, shall we last long with this pace? We are becoming uncivilized of our proper civilization with the hope of catching up with this capitalist world in the shadows of globalization.”

Another focus of the workshop is to educate people and correct the general misconception that dancers are unserious people. Dancers are also taught to have pride in themselves and the job they do. “Once upon a time, dancers used to be subordinates to dramatic performances, musical revivals and tools for welcoming VIPs at the terminal and airports while percussionists stand beside as a mere subordinate art to other forms of art, but in present time, the story is taking another form. Today has come to be, after a long week of talks, understanding, making performers of these arts to be conscious and empower these art forms, that in recent time appears to be one of the most influential and versatile art form that could go into other art forms.” Qudus said.

The event is not meant to promote a certain form of dance but to bring all forms of dance together as one, said the organizers, “our aim is not to romance 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.”

The film shown during the workshop was extracted from the recent project of Qudus and titled, "do we need cola-cola to dance." It is a project he did around six countries of Africa in 2007. The countries toured are Lagos, Cairo, Johannesburg, Maputo, Nairobi and Yaoundé with the purpose of retracing a path that may lead to the discovery of the things he found missing.

Qudus Onikeku, a young Nigerian dancer and Acrobat based in France ,has toured over 27 countries across the globe while Isioma Williams, a performer of high esteem, Choreographer, Dance director, Percussionist and the coordinator for Gong beats productions. Both are ambassadors of Africa culture, showcasing the rich heritage of Africans in various part of the world and they have used their experience to portray Africa in a positive light at different forum and most recently at the workshop.

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