When popular dance outfits Tabu-flo, Hip Hop dance project and many more concentrated on professionalizing dance, it looked like a cheap joke given the fact that dance looked a trade people came to escape lawlessness.
However, as time flies their efforts have birthed fruits, with many groups cropping up, dance surely is earning its place in Uganda’s art industry.
In the past, we have seen incredible dance pieces such as Kakalabanda, Abasezi, ill-legitimate that nearly went un-noticed locally. In fact, their magnificence was largely felt by in the countries they the art was exported to.
With arrangements like Dance Week, Batalo Dance Festival, Latin flavor that all take place at the National Theatre and different country cultural centers such as Goethe Zentrum and Alliance Francaise, dance has mostly been consumed by an expatriate community.
Faizal Ddamba’s choreographed Tonsidika (Don’t Push Me) got the industry buzzing, packing the auditorium of the National Theatre to the brim that even before Vizuri Dance crew stepped at the theatre stage to perform, their presence had already been felt.
Uncle Walters’ Dance Choir Mukirombe, carefully followed the trend, beautiful art, contemporary and in some places abstract, but still, a show in development yet successful.
I am A female though, changed the face of who consumed dance but the way artistes curate their work, it was a show that brought an audience that has not come to theatre for years or even ever.
And then they had such production values, the lighting, props and star power; where art wasn’t at its best, the glitz and glamor balanced.
This was the background that made Clay’s Gathering, such a moment.
Talking art, Gathering was perhaps a no match to the fore said pieces in regards to stage, art, light and costume.
Like never before the Clay thought it beautiful to think of an opening act that much as for many dancers choose to work with musicians or other dance groups to do the opening act, The clay chose to do the opening act by themselves.
At the theatre building porch , monument and the main entrance the opening act was clever thought that even a person who turned up for the first show would interest someone home to the next show.
Like Iam A Female, they curated two shows after the other, and they were both filled up – it is a discipline that has in the past gotten into dance, marketing beyond their weight and at the look of things, it is paying off.
The Clay faith theme dance piece was a tale of church and the wild fused with dance to paint a picture of a youth fighting Satan.
They kept their audience engaged and to their advantage, they could relate with some dance strokes such as the Ghanaian Pilolo.
“Nothing will separate us from the love of God”, “Nothing will separate us from the love of God” They were lines in the script as recited as the dancers trudged the floor to celebrate their 10 year journey in Dance.
Nothing of course put them apart with God and it was no shocker that “Jesus” turned up at balusters up in the theatre auditorium in conversation with one of his disobedient angles – Satan.
The lights where again screwed up prompting a suggestion that it is becoming a tendency for National theatre lighting to grow wrong on good shows.
The Clays choice not to craft a proper stage design was really inexcusable but however, the move to play a round with Props was quite legitimate.
For a piece of over 60 participants the show was well received by the audience who were kept wanting for more and indeed and dance gains prominence in Uganda, for Clay it was a test passed.
To The Chief Executive Director of Batalo Dance Company Abdul Kinyenya, who co- produced the show explains that the Clays’ imminent performance comes to bridge the gap between talent in the Pentecostal churches and the mainstream dance industry.
“Besides churches using dance for worshiping or evangelism, we believe that talents can spread from churches to the mainstream to grow talents and create jobs,” Kinyenya added.
Clay Dance Company coordinator Ms. Lillian Allyinza noted that even when the performance was a success it is pauses a great challenge for them to work hard and march other dance groups that are in the industry.
“10 years has been a journey we started off as contemporary dancers, but now we are versatile and our membership grown to 70 people that where part the production,” Allyinza explained.
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