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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.




​In 2017 we initiated danceGATHERING, as an annual gathering for creatives coming from diverse backgrounds, a performance lab and anti-disciplinary convention, which takes place in Lagos. It was co-founded in 2017 by Hajarat Alli and Qudus Onikeku, and co-curated in 2018 and 2019 by Qudus Onikeku, dancer, choreographer and artistic director of the QDance Center Lagos, and Onye Ozuzu, the Dean of the School of Arts, University of Florida USA. Operating as a horizontal, co-creation and co-learning space where everyone is an expert in something, where there is freedom of experiment. Here we invite artistes, thinkers, dreamers, healers and other inclassable mutants, who are all radically shifting the boundaries of knowledge in their various fields and localities, to connect by philosophies and practically collaborate together, on ideas that doesn’t necessarily fit into one discipline. 

danceGATHERING isn't a festival, it isn't a retreat, a conference nor a workshop or seminar. It is a free space devoid of academic rules or marketplace expectations, devoid of professional hustle or cleverness. It is a space of love and laughter, of encounters and imperfections, a space of strength, vulnerability and inter-communal cooperation. A space of free spirit, free sharing and immense generosity, it is an untamed and uncultivated space, which invites us all to shed the layers of inhibition that flaws our capacity for human connectedness in our daily lives. An attempt to strengthen ties across borderlines, across race, across place, across time, across disciplines, across age, across gender and goes straight to the core of our being. A gathering of bodies happy to be together and touch one another, and desire one another, and care for one another, and carry, push, pull and groove with one another regardless of all the differences they emit unto one another.

A body mind spirit workspace, where we collectively experience the bliss of total surrender to the creative process, where we inquire into what it means to elevate our thinking and culture as creatives, as thinkers and doers, as dreamers and catalysts, by simply being open to others and learning from all kinds of inspiring people from around the globe. It is a gathering where we are invited to plan together for a paradigm shift, where people are curated and not the things they make; here nothing is laid out but deeply felt. On the final weekend, danceGATHERING transforms Broad Street (Lagos historic Business District), into an arena for an elaborate performance, where all the collaborations, the findings and outcomes are shared in open air, with a larger Lagos and international audience. It is an attempt to bring back a religious order to public life.



For the first week of danceGATHERING, the morning session offers participants an opportunity to take a variety of master classes from what’s available, ranging from traditional dances and drumming, body mind centering, contemporary practice and improvisation, writing and composition, philosophy and history etc., while the afternoon session affords each participant an opportunity to work individually or in small groups.


The second week offers a laboratory, where all the participants get an opportunity of collaborating with other collaborators, which further expands the scope of their materials, they experiment together, exchange creative processes and patterns, with the constraint at hand they dive deeper into pertinent questions of innovation, as it pertains to their practices and the current realities, while they develop new collaborative works that engage the creative energy of Lagos and the times.

On the final weekend, danceGATHERING transforms Broad Street, Lagos busiest street into an arena for an antidisciplinary performance weekend, where all the collaborations, the findings and outcomes will be shared in open air with thousands of Lagos and international audience. 

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