By Bethsheba Achitsa
Published October 29, 2009
Nairobi is set to host a five-day (December 9-13, 2009) pan-African dance festival and conference to promote peace on the mother continent. This All Africa Dance Conference and Festival will bring together dance companies from Nigeria, Mali Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania, Jamaica, Haiti, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Cuba, Sierra Leone, Netherlands, Britain, United States, Canada and India. BETHSHEBA ACHITSA reports.
Many African countries have been affected by conflicts leading to the deaths of more than seven million people in the last twenty years, Kenya has been on the verge of a civil war and armed conflicts have for long characterised most of the countries in Africa. Inter-ethnic conflicts are the order of the day in most African countries and with unresolved conflicts in Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Burundi, Congo and Chad, the arts being such a powerful communication tool, provide African countries with the proper media to share in the use of the arts to promote peace and healing while striving to prevent armed conflicts in future.
A symphony of contemporary dance, the festival will celebrate the creative work of the African continent. It will provide Kenyans with a life time chance to dance and leap to the cultural rhythms of the contemporary dance of Africa. Kenya’s Sarakasi, Safari Cats, Kanda King, Shangilia and Bomas of Kenya Dancers will provide rich insights into Kenya’s contemporary dance styles.
Featuring award-winning Johannesburg-based contemporary dance choreographer Gregory Maqoma, the festival other than the three day marathon dancing will host a two day dance conference in which ideas around what constitutes African dance aesthetics debated between some of the top choreographers, dancers and academics in Africa.
Alongside Gregory Maqoma, Michael Holgate, the multifaceted artist and dance choreographer from Jamaica will run a series of workshops that will facilitate sharing of skills in the use of dance to promote peace and human understanding at the festival as shall Carolina Novella, a professor of dance for Peace in Athens, Greece.
Among the highlights of the festival is the peace drum project, a competition that will involve dancers, video artists, fashion designers and choreographers who will come together to create dance projects within the three days of the festival; the best developed message on peace will see the creators walk away with US$5 000.
The festival is also expected to bring together more than 1 000 committed peace builders, educators, dance artists, development workers, community animators and cultural activists from Africa and the Diaspora.
With Sarakasi, Safari Cats, Kanda King, Shangilia and Bomas of Kenya Dancers highlighted as Kenya’s representatives one is likely to wonder whether Kenya, a country that is deeply structured around deep rhythmic chants and spectacular community dances will be adequately represented.
Scheduled to take place at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, The All Africa Dance, funded by artaction.com and Purple Images productions, will be a celebration of peace, the vibrant dance life of Nairobi city and to affirm the creativity of the African people when it comes to cultural dance.