The Embassy of France in Nigeria has restate its dedication to develop its relations with Nigeria across all fields, particularly, culture. Speaking at the embassy’s programme held to mark the 2019 International Dance Day, Ambassador Jérôme Pasquier, said dance, of which Nigeria possesses rich old traditions, is one way of establishing, “real, two-way exchanges between France and Nigeria.”
To mark the occasion, the embassy, via its culture institute, Institut Francais, in collaboration with Krump Dance Studio, Abuja, organised a panel discussion on dance, a documentary screening detailing the state of contemporary dance in Africa, and a performance by the dance studio to crown off the evening.
In developing cultural links between both nations, Pasquier says, Nigerian dance artiste, dancepreneur and founder of Krump Dance Studio, Jemimah Angulu, is the beneficiary of the French Ministry of Culture’s “Itineraire Culture” 2019 for the promotion of Arts in Public Spaces.
Angulu, he announces, will participate in an 11-day long seminar in France, “to see what we do in France, as well as show French dancers, what Nigerian dancers are doing in Nigeria. We have many things to learn from Nigeria, and I hope Nigerian dancers will learn something from French dance culture.”
France Cultural Attaché, Christelle Folly, says France aims to support Nigerians to participate in the “global conversation on dance. It is important to us that every Nigerian is a part of this Nigerian narrative.” “Dance is a way to facilitate meetings, and exchange of values,” continued Folly, “I urge Nigeria’s awareness of its youths’ abilities and capacities to become one of the leading nations in dance.”
In addressing issues in dance in the nation, dance artistes, Angulu, Wale Aleb, and visual arts curator, Nduwhite Ahanonu, reviewed contemporary dance as means of communication, and its reception by Nigerians. In their use of dance to reflect issues of personal concern to them, Aleb says his piece, Irinri Ajo, talks about “his life’s journey, and the collective things we are going through as Nigerians,” while Angulu’s next project, Broken, will highlight the issue of women abused in many ways.”
Featuring three international African dance artistes – Burkinabe, Serge Aime Coulibaly, South Africa’s Nelisibe Xaba, and Nigerian, Qudus Onikeku, the documentary highlights state of contemporary dance in the varied styles and purposes of the dancers. Coulibaly’s employs dance as a political commentary on its then life president, Blaise Compaore, Xaba as a channel for her more complex expression, neo-colonialism, and Onikeku, as a weapon.
“Fela (Anikulapo Kuti) said music is weapon, I say dance is a weapon. I want to use my art, dance, to reach the level of impact Fela had,” says Onikeku.
“The artist’s voice needs to grow louder and louder, especially today when people have to watch what they say because of the government,” adds Xaba. Krump studio’s Textures, an hour plus dance piece, taking the audience through gamut of emotions capped off the night.