Contemporary dance has been rooted on the Ugandan scene for a number of years now. Yet, even when it has been incorporated in commercials, branding and music videos, the question of whether the message in such dances is received has stayed with us.
In a symposium that preceded the Tuzinne Festival that took place on Friday night at the National Theatre, the question of the message in a dance piece came out more than once.
Being a festival that addresses human rights, it is key to make sure the message being preached in movement is actually received and understood.
The festival had two phases, one happened outside the Uganda National Cultural Centre building, mostly celebrating cultural dances from our forefathers to those that define the streets today.
The opening act brought together children from the Sosolya Udungu Dance Academy, workshop participants and the Target Squad, they presented dances that embodied all ages and backgrounds.
Yet this was just an introduction to a night that was celebrating the uniqueness of dance an art, to celebrating human rights.
Denies Plassard, a French choreographer was appearing on a Ugandan stage for the second time, having performed at the same venue back in 2016, then, he started his performance from the parking lot. Wearing double masks and a body tight costumes, he had captured imaginations with his body movement that described humanity, betrayal and double faces.
And it is hard to imagine that he did not bring back the double faces concept into his performance on Friday with a costume that was neither facing the front or back.
With a theme of defending human rights, the festival did well with three curation decisions that included showcases by two crews of disabled people, one was from Kigali while the other was from Kampala.
Titled A Bouquet is Made of Different Flowers, Splash from Uganda made a case of the fact that our difference in nature and characteristic is what makes us special but My Journey is a Signature by Rwanda United Kingdom captured imaginations for the fact that it articulated its message to the core.
The closing act of the night, Kings 256 went political with a showcase that highlighted the political tension in Uganda as well as the relationship the public especially the opposition has with the forces.
It was a piece that intended to show and advocate for better treatment of suspects as well as those that have beliefs that differ from yours.
The soulful performance at times became emotional thanks to soundtracks like Good Black Woman by Brenda Fassie that helped drive the message home.
The shows also included awards presented to dancers and dance groups like the Kampala Crew, Semakula Grace and Ibrahim Buwembo among others.
The Tuzinne Festival was started by Oscar Senyonga last year with a special objective of celebrating and promoting human rights through dance as well as improving and encouraging dancers in Uganda not to give up on the art.