By Beth Achitsa
Published December 4, 2015
A dance performance that fuses contemporary dance, classical ballet and African traditional dances premieres at Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi on December 12, 2015.
Choreographed by Tero Saarinen of Finland who is said to be celebrated in 40 countries across the world, the performance, dubbed Trail, not only taps the talent and energy of 12 dancers but also integrates movement, theatre, music, costumes and light, resulting in an explosive cinematic atmosphere.
The dancers in this Tero Saarinen Company and Ghetto Exposed collaborative production for which local and international tours are planned are drawn from groups such as Black Blingers, Kenya Performing Arts Group, YAWA, Sarakasi Dancers, Ghetto Exposed Dance and Safari Cats.
Expressing satisfaction that the production has some of the best dancers in the country, Mike Wamaya, director of the Nairobi-based Ghetto Exposed, says, “We scouted for the dancers from all parts of the country over a three-month period.”
On his part, choreographer Saarinen says, “We sincerely hope that this production will have a long life touring and on its part help in promoting and developing the Kenyan dance scene.”
Trail is Tero Saarinen Company’s second collaboration with Kenyan partners, having showcased two performances of Hunt, a solo performed by the choreographer himself at the Alliance Francaise in 2013.
So what is Trail about?
“We all make our own Trails. What we do is never completely new; we build upon the ancient trails,” Saarinen says. “With this production I hope to learn from traditions, different cultural backgrounds as well as rhythms. Trail is also about solitude. What is the place of an individual in a team? When you meet others do you fit in or do you try to find your way alone? Do you lose your identity or do you hold onto it?”
As if to provoke discussion, Saarinen says African artists are no longer located only in Africa and the Diaspora, but also in the virtual world, such as in video art or the Internet.
“This post-modern Africa is still often noticed as ‘traditional’, in most cases with a claim for ‘authenticity’,” says Saarinen. “Contemporary African pieces of dance are ways to build upon this ‘trail’ of authenticity and use the strength of both tradition as well as innovation.”
Tero Saarinen says “Trail is aimed at celebrating the talent of Kenyan dancers. We try to make a contribution to the buildup of audience for dance in Kenya.”
The Trail is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and the Finnish Embassy in Nairobi as part of the 50-year anniversary celebrations of the diplomatic relations between Kenya and Finland.
Apart from the show in the evening of Jamhuri Day on December 12, there shall be another one on December 13 at 2.00 PM. Tickets are available online at ticketsasa.com.