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  danceGATHERING 2020 | 18/19 APRIL. 2020

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danceGATHERING Lagos was initiated as an annual get-together, where we are all invited to connect by philosophies and plan for a paradigm shift. The 2020 edition was initially billed to hold from 6 - 19 April, but in the interest of public health and in compliance with local health advisories as regards COVID-19, it became impossible to continue with our plans, but instead of announcing a cancellation, we pushed our thoughts even further; what if we organise an exceptional Virtual danceGATHERING 2020, on our performance weekend, which was the 18 and 19 April, featuring a careful selection out of our danceGATHERING global community + other guest, all engaging with our predefined 2020 theme: THIS IS THE END: THE FUTURE IS BLACK?

Every year danceGATHERING examines its conceptual epicenter from myriad perspectives and muses. For 2020 we reflected the time. The world as we knew it ended, but simultaneously, this end time ignited the fire of a new possible future for all to realize that a new world thinking is indispensable, if we wish to reverse the damage that we’ve done to ourselves, to other inhabitants of the planet and to the climate till now. How do we dance together when our bodies are separated? New beginnings ask us to forget and re-examine. As some senses diminish perhaps others will intensify. How do we collectively experiment with the emerging sensitivities that we can predict will begin to manifest to us? Can we enhance this experience together in an intentional way? What if this end never ends ? How does the world breath again? At the time of contacting all the collaborators, almost every artist we know were at home, the object of our reflection was therefore, to examine what working from home meant for many of us, how do we merge the home space with the work space? Defying the dictatorship of social distancing wasn’t what we considered radical at the time, but what we found compelling was how many of us in our different disciplines are going in to collapse the spaces within our own confinements, to investigate how this new reality informs our practices, in a way that incorporates every obstacle that confines us to a place.


Within the AFROSPACETIME (which was the theme for danceGATHERING 2019), what really is virtual? does it not encompass everything that takes place outside the realm of what can be considered physical? Including dreamscapes, transcendence, visionscape and other immersive explorations of Yoruba conception of spacio-temporality, which blends the virtual with the spiritual, within a context that unsettles us, and places us as the subject of our own futures, pasts and presents. The digital world is a great space to collapse space and time, to escape and to re-connect, connecting the African dispersed world through creative collaborations and a feeling of presence which defies distance. A Virtual danceGATHERING wasn't an online festival, it isn't a webinar nor an e-conference, in fact, as always, it demanded no deliverables of our collaborators, no one knew what incentive or outcome to make of this experiment, but as systems collapse around us, this was simply be an invitation to allow same to crumble in each of us individually, while seeking new kinds of connections as we rehearse the future together for a paradigm shift.

This is the reflection I extended to all the featured collaborators as a prompt, what came out of it is this 5-hour immersive experience with over 100 artists / thinkers / administrators / visionaries / healers /technicians / light bearers / diviners who collaborated across 30 cities globally. Community Building is a creative act, and for me, it is important to build both a collaborative space and a community who have immensely contributed to this vision, which we’ve been imagining and pulling together over the course of the past five years.