The Adventures of Isys Drain: #danceGATHERING

The Adventures of Isys Drain: #danceGATHERING


Experiencing a day of art, outside of dance has forced me to put words to the journey that was #danceGATHERING


I’ve always been a passionate dance enthusiast and my frustrations with the industry were deeply rooted in the myopia that ran deep in the artists, the insistence of maintaining a status quo that had obviously done more harm than good and the celebration of mediocrity hinged heavily on ignorance and the lack of exposure.

Chei, I’ve come with my grammar but it is the truth. The constant battle against this mentality relegated my interest in the dance industry to the background until I was fortunate and blessed to meet Qudus Onikeku, Nigeria’s foremost dance export and visionary. He has turned out to be more than a dancer and artist but a catalyst of change (not the Baba ‘Bu kind of change)

As I stated in a post I wrote on the ‘gram while I grappled with words to best express the impact of the festival,

‘You can’t grow a people within the four walls of your mind, you grow a people by creating a world they can see from the things they have refused to acknowledge’ – Isys Drain

Qudus has chosen to explore the growth option, using his platform and access as a spring board for the growth of the dance industry rather than self-grafitication. 

The Lagos Contemporary Dance festival, also known as #danceGATHERING, is a five day activation and celebration of dance, preceded by an intensive dance training program called danceLab which runs into the festival and lends pieces to the final dance exhibition at the end of the festival.

The festival went beyond training and opened up hotspots for artistic exchange all over Lagos through various events like CROSSINGS (a conversation between two artists with various means of expression) and dancingCities (a street dance performance by artists within the community of choice and guest performers) all of which formed the body of festival.

The road map we followed throughout the festival was enough to cause one to think outside the box. The line-up gave no room for old thoughts only possibilities.

Though the year’s theme was MO•[VE]•MENTS, I experienced it within the various kinds of human interaction and the visible effects it had on the parties involved, be it the teacher-student relationships between the guest instructors and the participants of danceLab, the somewhat silent partnerships between the artists of CROSSINGS or the message passed from performer to audience. 

Words truly do not do the festival justice. Stand out performances for me on the final days were ‘Fatou Tas Tout Fait’ by Fatoumata Bagayakou which addressed female circumcision with a haunting yet liberating appeal,  ‘Iwalewa’ a piece I had seen in snippets but was finally able to witness in its entirety and was brought to tears by (yes I’m a cry baby but it’s got to be good work to open the flood gates) and of course ‘Ijo Agba’ because the music of the piece brought back loads of memories and I found the fusion of indigenous music and urban Nigerian dance styles, rather amusing.

There’s so much to say and I honestly would like to go on but for fear of boring your socks off, I’ll stop here and say some experiences are best had in person than through the words of another, so brace yourself for #danceGATHERING 2018 so we can experience it together. For now check out danceGATHERING on Instagram, Facebook, twitter and for more details.

Chei, the English it haff finish. I’m out.


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