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EMERGENCE is a mentorship program that awards early-career dancers/choreographers based in Nigeria with opportunities to develop a new  work, under the mentorship of the internationally renowned choreographer, Qudus Onikeku. The works from this year's emegence are billed to be shown in Germany, Nigeria, Mozambique and beyond.


After selection and initial mentorship in 2022, the three finalists for EMERGENCE 2022/2023 includes Patience Ebute (Jos) with ALEKU,  Joshua Akubo Gabriel (Kaduna) with NO MANS LAND and Deborah Aiyegbeni (Lagos) with IT’S IN MY HEAD. The first tribe of EMERGENCE addresses cultural biases, sexuality and feminine energy; belonging, nationhood, and the effect of living under terror. The three artists will enjoy residency and co-production support from QDance, as well as our partner organizations in France and Germany. 


IT'S IN MY HEAD is a solo piece that installs a psychological connection with the  missing Chibok Girls, exploring the idea of belonging, of home and the possibility  of return. ALEKU is a piece for 5 female dancers, based on a traditional practice in Benue Nigeria, where women undergo certain rituals as a way of cleansing from adultery. NO MANS LAND is a reflection on the survival journey and the dark screams of familiar voices reacting to homegrown terrorism that plagues Northern Nigeria expressed  by 4 dancers. 

Emergence 2023/2024 shall induct three more choreographers into the program this year, the call for application will be released shortly.





In this solo dance piece, I employ dance as an attempt to be a voice for those unnamed. It’s a call to action to name the numbers 276, and follow up with the numbers. Dance is used as an act of questioning, “who are they?” “where are they now?” “when will they return?”. It’s an attempt to recollect the fading memory of the 2014 event, a lure to bring it to the fore of our consciousness. It is an attempt to name and rename them until our collective tongue is heavy with chants for their return.


With this medium, I attempt to make concrete, the range of emotions felt by the captured girls, wearing their selves, I become a representative. I make visible and current an event about to be eroded by time, knowing the effect time has on memory. My performance piece also explores the subject of identity from a perspective of belonging and a reexamination of the idea of home, as well as the labor that comes with assimilation, when they return. Has anyone thought about how do they feel on the inside after their return.

Ultimately, the dance investigates the body as a timekeeper, holding experiences and how these experiences invokes shapeshifting as an act of survival. It brings to the audience, flashes of memories creating a road map for what these experiences of these girls were like, through the use of text, photo installations, creating a soundscape of sound installations and dance. The essence of this project is to create a deliberate consciousness and awareness in diaspora through this work.


Dance & Choreography:

Deborah Aiyegbeni

15 Minutes




The universality of rituals performed in various communities in Africa covers the African spirituality, culture , essence , and relevance, but also , these ritual practices are done in a discriminated way against women. In Nigeria , women continue to experience human right violations through harmful ritual cultural practices that still exist in Africa, especially in Nigeria all in the name of traditions.


Aleku is based on a belief in Benue, the middle belt of Nigeria ,where women undergo ritual rights as a way of cleansing from sins which in most cases they did not commit. This project also opens up the subject matter of cultural dehumanization And shameful cultural practices existing as rituals around women. In conclusion Aleku carries a ritual performance sense that is energetic (dance movements) but also caries depth of spirituality, this Piece is designed with a high sense of cultural appeal and local aesthetics.

Aleku adopts the non linear way of telling stories, the stories will be abstract in approach , in terms of dance, movements, gestures, images , music and costume. We intend to continue to explore into this feminist ritual within Nigerian communities. The work will be a combination of traditionally based dance movements from Nigeria, and also Afrobeat street style as a spice to the movement quality of the work. Strong energetic female dancers will embody the spiritual and emotional liberation that comes with the intention of this work.

We are working with traditionally made costumes and representation of urban Afro style. This piece seeks for freedom and liberation of the woman from toxic ritual practices with the aim to create an awakening, healing and balance in African



Patience Ebute

Dancers - Grace Phillips, Ene Ebute, Rasheeda Solomon, Loneh Makwa, Patience Ebute

Costumier - Ecouture (loneh makwa)

36 Minutes




Everyday we experience different injustices happen, whether it is mainstream or within our communities around racism, politics, religion, gender and ethnicity, the effect of these injustices is swallowed up in the bias of media coverage. The suffering are discussed or documented only on the surface, thereby reducing the actual dangers faced and the urgency needed in dealing with it.


This work hope to propose a further inquiry into the severity of these attacks, the beginning and the end of its victims whether that means death, survival or survival with disabilities (psychologically, physiologically or physically) it will be deliberate in creating sceneries from interview with victims from IDPs using the bodies of 4 dancers as narrators accompanied with video projections and sound scores from recorded events. The work is adaptable both for theatre and public space. The work has gone through multiple experimental stages and researches from investigating public opinions to theater performance and conversations in the last 2 years.

NO MANS LAND is a reflection on the survival journey it takes from a gun shot to intervention. The dark screams of familiar voices reacting to the impact of machete, knifes, guns, rape and ravaging from invaders, a night that would seem never to end and a longing for daylight like it would bring some kind of security. The work is intended to draw attention to the terrors that plaques rural villages in the Northern parts of Nigeria. the forceful eviction of indigenes from their ancestral land. The work shows episodes of chaos encountered by four residents eeing their village at the alert of bandits. it goes on to show their struggle to survive a dreadful journey of blood and bullets.

The work will feature four dancers using modern and traditional contemporary movement techniques in recreating these imagery as they embody these stories through dramaturgy to composing an atmosphere that suggest the question of our inhumanity.



Joshua Akubo Gabriel


Brenda Donald, Joshua Akubo Gabriel, Collins Sunday, Emmanuel Enojo Francis.

30 Minutes

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