3limes is feeling like it time to shake those blue cobwebs off the shoulders and look around with new and fresh eyes. Yes, a dark cloud has been wafting about these past few weeks but there is nothing like a night out to see some fabulous dance to remind us how lucky we are to live in a country where it is not easy to be an artist and those that create are both brave and in need of some celebration.
Last night a small group of us headed to the National Theatre to see a performance of Keiga Dance Company with music by Joel Sebunjo.
There were 7 dancers, three musicians and one technician. We were told during the introduction that we were about to see a showcase of modern contemporary Ugandan dance that unlike most dance, would specifically stay away from telling a story. However, what I liked most about the dance was that, in snippets, a story was being told and using gestures that we all use daily, only this time they were presented in an exaggerated and poetic manner with the body instead of words or expressions. At one point each dancer looked a member of the audience straight in the eyes and pointed between his eyes and ours as if to say, I am the one watching you, not the other way around.
The musicians played both with their voices and traditional instruments but the symbiosis between the live musicians and the dancers was like a taunt cord seamlessly strung between the two.
It cannot be easy to be a dancer here. There are no opportunities to go to dance school, nor is dancing considered a worthwhile profession is a country where it is imperative to work to feed perhaps your entire family, in addition to yourself. I sat spellbound throughout the performance and thought to myself how powerful the pull to create really is, no matter the place or circumstance of one’s birth. What ever changes in this crazy world of ours, art and creation will live on, no matter the pull or bias from society or family. The will to dance was there for these 7 dancers and I applaud them for their skill, passion, creativity and perseverance. This dance troop could happily find themselves on a stage anywhere in the West holding their own against other homegrown dancers.
I love to watch dance, often, more so than theatre ( which considering my education and training to be a drama teacher might seem strange. ) Dance has to power to express without words and that challenge, when it works is enough to move any heart.
It must be said that, as an added bonus, I appreciated some eye candy for the first time since arriving here in Uganda. Initially, in the first of 7 pieces I sat and regretted the baggy t-shirt attire of choice. Then when the dancers appeared bearing rippled chests I could sit back and appreciate what the human form can really do. A black dancer is the closest one can get to a living Adonis.