Dance is not one of the most celebrated art genres in Uganda, in fact, for many artistes, it’s a belief they can do without it.
This has seen dancers frustrated that to be noticed; some have had to take up music.
But there’s been a lease of life for the art in the past with festivals, TV shows and workshops celebrating and giving the art relevance.
Last weekend, at Goethe Zentrum in Kamwokya, another of such celebrations was happening; code named Tuzinne Festival, they had their eyes on creating a dance fiesta with an objective of protecting people’s rights while at it.
Organized by Mambya Dance Company, Tuzinne Festival brought together over ten dance companies to celebrate as well as talk dance with the audience.
Much as the real event happened on Friday and Saturday, Tuzinne Festival had been going on with workshops and training across the country; the workshops created the festival curating backbone as some of the dance groups that showcased were picked from there.
The festival was graced by dance groups from Rwanda, DR Congo, Burundi, Kenya as well as Uganda.
Much as the festival intended to merge advocacy with dance, it seemed like many of the choreographers that put the stories together for the performances missed the memo; they were brilliant performances with good messages but most of the times didn’t have the human rights drive to them.
For instance, day one performances were exciting with troupes like Kyuka Dance Company from Natete and Baba Dance Project from Congo mostly preached messages like Pan Africanism and technology invasion on humanity.
Kyuka, probably the most enjoyed performers of day one had their routine ironed out since the first time they showcased it at the Dance Week Festival earlier this year, their costumes were bold and daring, they had some of the cleanest choreography that saw moves easily transit into the other with ease.
Their masterful storytelling was focusing on a tourist that forgot his bag in the bush for it to be discovered by locals that later try to understand its contents; their shock after interfacing with the contents of the bag that include a phone, jacket and cap form the story of how humans behave when they are meant with alien cultures.
Most of the performances of during the performances were a mixture of medias like audio visual, spoken word and of course music; Adam Chienjo from Kenya for instance performed a routine about a human body – the connection to human rights was around the way people abuse other people’s bodies because of their skin colors and shape.
The performance was majorly explained by a video that showed different body shapes, tattoos and markings with poetry that was read by the dancer.
But two performances that had disabled people like one by Pamoja Dance Company clearly brought the themes of the festivals especially with the images of neglect of rights of such people by the public – the performance that had two dancers one in a wheel chair and the other able bodied – in some of the scenes, we see the able bodied one throw the other off the wheel chair and kicking him around before they end the piece in harmony.
The festival ended with an award give away ceremony that saw some of dance’s biggest contributors like Oscar Senyonga, Julius Lugaaya and Faisal Kiweewa awarded.
First published in The Observer