Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Uganda National Contemporary Ballet Ends the Year in Style

The place to be tomorrow at 7p.m, is the Uganda National Theatre where the Uganda National Contemporary Ballet (UNCB) will be crowning the year in style. Just so you don't know, this ensemble has played probably the greatest role in popularizing modern/contemporary dance in Uganda.
When professional French choreographer and dancer, Valérie Miquel, accepted to participate in a 2007 dance project organized by  Alliance Française in partnership with the Uganda German Cultural Society, little did she know that she would set precedence that would redefine the way Ugandans view contemporary dance.

After a two-week workshop with 12 professional dancers from Uganda, two riveting choreographic productions themed Black/White and Memories of Child Soldiers, were presented at Ndere Centre on September 16th, 2007. The success of the performance inspired Valerie to stay and form the Burudani Dance Company which switched name to Uganda National Contemporary Ballet on March last year.

Comprising Valerie Miquel, Patrick Kaddu, Desire Tedeka, Abdul Muyingo, Nassif Wambogo, Peter Kalifa, Roger Masaba, Brovin Kato, Mike Gaalala Kaddu, Suzan Kyomugisha, Hermann Ssewanyana (of Percussion Discussion), with John Nagenda (Presidential Adviser, Media & Public Relations), the group has been to France and Germany and all over East Africa, enthralling audiences with performances ranging from modern and contemporary to traditional dance, pantomime, Bharata Natyam (Indian Dance), pantomime plus jazz dance and some hip hop moves.

At the Global 2009 SMART Partnership Dialogue in Munyonyo, they presented a special creation that impressed the visiting dignitaries and in September they performed for the international celebration of the Year of the Gorillas at Kololo Airstrip. They also organised "an evening for the child soldiers all over the world" and performed again Memories of Child soldiers in collaboration with Invisible Children in Kampala at the National Theatre.
Being the first International Contemporary Dance Company in Uganda, UNCB have inspired other dance groups like Keiga Dance Company, Yole Dance, Kombat Dancers, Okulamba/MDD, Footsteps Dance Company , Break Dance Project and the In Movement among others, and therefore not only inspired the appreciation and acceptance of modern dance in Uganda but have tremendously raised the bar in terms of diversity and quality.

It's because of this and largely because its part of its mandate to encourage and nurture cultural and artistic activities that the Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC) offered its Dance Studio as rehearsal space to the group. The National Theatre is today their home for they have performed here every last Tuesday of the month with Percussion Discussion Africa.

When John Nagenda was celebrating his 71st birthday, UNCB  honoured him with a special performance, Harmony. Obviously, he was delighted. He gushed in one of his Sunday Vision columns: "It was so serene a piece that while it was danced, with lights against darkness, I was minded to myself becoming more harmonious in outlook…"

The same piece will be performed along with other new creations tomorrow. For those fascinated by body movements and those curious about contemporary dance, the day to remember is Wednesday 16th December 2009 when UNCB crowns 2009 in style with a couple of performances that include Waiting Room, Dialogue (performed at the SMART Partnership Dialogue), The Bench, not forgetting For A Better Uganda.

The show will take place in the National Theatre main auditorium and entrance fee is 10,000shillings but students will pay half that. There's also a special offer whereby if you come with five friends, you enter for free and your friends pay only 5,000 each. Catch you there!

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