Dancing Cities… Touching Lives, Changing Social Behaviours

A scene from the play

A scene from the play

Most people believe the best place to teach moral lessons to youth are in schools and at home. But to dance expert Qudus Onikeku, any space under the sun, including the sun, is just the right place to inculcate the right values, attitudes, skills and knowledge in young people.

Onikeku, the Creative Director of QDanceCentre might have been thinking along with Twyla Tharp, the American dancer and founder of Twyla Tharp Dance, who said, “I often say that in making dances I can make a world, where I think things are done morally, done democratically, done honestly.” In living true to this, he chooses unusual spaces for his presentations.

Dancing Cities, a new dance initiative directed by Onikeku was recently staged at Abete Field, Iwaya Yaba, Lagos. Presented by QDance Centre, the dance brings young people from diverse backgrounds to dance in different forms that talk about the decay in society and how to make things work for good.

A confluence of dances comprising hip hop, ballet, ballroom, Afrobeat, contemporary or traditional dance and other forms, the groups through their dances tell the audience that there is still hope in the country and that Nigerians should not give up on hope, even when all seems irredeemable.

Focusing on themes, which cut across bribery, survival of the fittest, gangsterism, impunity, break down of law and order, and bad governance, the dances call on the audience, partly made up of street urchins, never to always see the myriad of problems in the country as caused by government, because the people are part of government by virtue of their roles during the various elections that elected our political office holders.

Putting part of the blame of break down of values on broken homes, which are becoming rampant and parents delegating their primary roles to surrogates, the various dances forms depict the home as the nucleus of society that needs greater attention. The dances harp on the need to correct these values and attitudes that have turned husbands against their wives or wives against husbands, a situation that is detrimental to the children. The dances also call on governments at all levels to create enabling environment that would make well-meaning Nigerians to create new jobs, engage more young hands and make parents, especially husbands provide for their families.

From Afrobeats, hip hop to ballet, ballroom and traditional dances, the various dance forms speak against divorce and encouraged traditional African values that uphold brotherhood and communal lifestyle.

Apart from family matters, some of the Afrobeat dances used electrifying body movements and steps to advise youths to acquire skills and the right attitude that would make them lead normal lives and to be useful to themselves and society at large. They examined the behavioural partners of street urchins, and highlighted the right motivations and training to keep them off the streets. They were urged to turn away from their maladjusted behaviours and contribute positively to their different communities.

QDance Centre is a revolutionary dance company that uses dance as a tool for talent and community development. The centre organises a dance competition within the communities in every three months. It also moves its performances from one neighbourhood to the other, encouraging youths to come out and showcase their talents with any dance form they know.

However, to be eligible for the competition, each participating group is expected to present a performance that is not longer than 10 minutes and must comprise two to10 dancers.

While it made a debut in March, the second edition was held at Ikoyi, last Saturday, while the next performance is scheduled for September in FESTAC Town.

At the grand finale, which will hold in December, a male and female dancer of the year will emerge. Winners will go home with cash prizes and also enjoy international scholarship for further dance training and mentorship abroad, while top three dance groups would go home with N2 million in cash prize.

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