Tag: Qudus Onikeku

You are not entitled

You are not entitled

Dear Artist,

You are not entitled

You are not entitled to anything on the mere basis of talent. Your natural gifts do not afford you the pleasures of life without hardwork, passion and commitment, as well as a good attitude.

It’s sad to see how talented artists in Nigeria waste away because they lack one or all of these things.

Now let’s start by acknowledging a few things that serve as a point of justification and defense. Yes, we know that pursuing a career in the arts is tough and takes forever to pay, yes we know you need the money because times are hard and of course, it is understood that perfomers are not given their true worth but guess what; this happens everywhere in the world, movies have sold you gloss but the truth is, the struggle is real every where.

This doesn’t give you right of passage because you have it tough. Everything good in life comes with huge sacrifices that have to be paid. Those that excel are the ones that understand this, your gift is to be honed, shared and given freely before you can receive. Like a seed sown into the soil, you must wrestle with the sand to bloom like a flower.

Sadly, many an artist want to just become the flower without going through process. ‘Hian!’

If that were the case, everyone ought to have ‘hammered’ by now. But let’s not digress.

Talent is not enough, this can’t be overly emphasized . All talent gives you is a head start, you have to put in the work, go the extra mile to make something of it and succeed. If you claim to have passion for the talent God has freely given to you, then you have to have the discipline to train and hone it to perfection, the humility to learn from others and serve and the patience and commitment towards becoming the best version  of you.

No one can motivate you but you and the people you choose to look up to. Age is not a factor to consider when looking for a teacher or a mentor, experience and expertise is.

You must learn to maximize your strengths and daily grow and learn by outsourcing your weaknesses. Chei! Grammar!

Here’s what I mean: So you think you can dance right, baddest Naija lyrical hiphop dancer ever liveth etc etc but you suck at Naija styles and you know you need to learn. Pick the closest person to you with that skill, swallow a huge drop of humility and learn. Learn till you are as badass as your teacher or good enough to continue on your own. If you believe in value exchange, when you’re done learning, offer to teach your baddest hiphop too. Win, win for all.

Your attitude to work and opportunities determine how far you go as an artist. But first you need to have your priorities in check, if money is your inspiration then this isn’t particularly for you, but if your goal is artistry, mastering your craft, teaching it to people and creating a body of work exportable to any country in the world, then listen up.

You have to pay in time, service and your own funds to grow. Pay for training, volunteer to perform at platforms that will give you the kind of visibility you want and work with people who can move you forward.

READ! Artists seem to hate this word, not all but quite alot. You have to do research to grow, you can’t just rely on what you know. The internet is your friend but are you using it to your advantage?

Attitude. Every human being has an ego. Artists seem to blessed with robes of ego laced with pride and a crown of rudeness. *pauses for effect*

It’s the hard cold truth but we forget that these things do not help us and when displayed, only belittle us and what we have to offer.

People do not patronise pride, it doesn’t pay the bills and it is a bad investment but if that is what comes with your art then you will deprive yourself of greatness. The truth is a bitter pill to swallow but we must see it for what it is, the truth.

As artists we are too sensitive, too quick to take offence or be on the defensive. Too quick to judge but we hate criticism. Creating ‘beef’ that can feed a nation because you don’t want to be told what to do. Here’s my question, ‘ Who E EPP?’ At the end of the day, work is work and play is play, if you can’t tell the difference then, it’s your problem to deal with and nobody else’s.

On a lighter yet serious note, in order to be taken seriously in an industry of this nature, you must respect yourself and work ten times harder than anyone else. Throw your heart and soul into it, fight for what you love. It’s a harsh environment to live in, Nigeria that is, and it isn’t as conducive or structured enough for the arts industry yet but let that not become the excuse to do a sloppy job. Work your butt off and become the best, you may have been unappreciated and treated wrongly but never let it break you but build you.

Your response to your situation determines how far you go in life. So don’t give up, this art will pay if you put in the work and you will never regret pursuing your passion.

This comes from a place of truth, we would never grow without it

Yours,

An artist

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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

http:/isysdrain.wordpress.com/danceGATHERING
#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 qdancecentre.com for more details.

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


danceGATHERING


danceGATHERING 
…repositioning dance in Nigeria…

http:/www.isysdrain.wordpress.com/danceGATHERING
danceGATHERING

           

Lagos is set to play host to dancers and choreographers from Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Kaduna, Bamako, Tunis, Maputo, Washington and Paris, in a major dance gathering the country is yet to witness this year. 

The QDanceCenter, a brainchild of Nigeria’s foremost dance export, Qudus Onikeku, is back this year with the debut edition of danceGATHERING | Lagos Contemporary Dance Festival. This mammoth project has garnered the support of the National Theatre, Institut Français, Goethe Institut and has been adopted by the Lagos @50 committee under the chairmanship of Prof. Wole Soyinka. 

The danceGATHERING is a two-phased project with a two-week long dance lab (20 Feb. – 5 March 2017) followed by a five day dance festival (1 – 5 March 2017) in various venues around Lagos. 


The artistic director of the festival, Onikeku, made it known through a statement that “the artistic directorial style of danceGATHERING 2017 proposes MOVEMENT as a major character, not solely a thing to be watched, but something that allows our audience to be jostled, activating different hotspots for dance in the breathtaking city of Lagos, making a deliberate action of turning the entire city into our play area.” 

He further noted that “Because the city (of Lagos) is already noisy and fast and surreal, and dramatic with constant movements, I have curated a program, which rotates between 10 venues around Lagos, both in conventional spaces as well as improvised spaces. In a span of five days, we shall create an opportunity for our audience to step out of their comfort zones and move with the flow, going against traffic from Ikoyi (QDanceCenter, Omenka gallery, BogoBiri, JazzHole), to Iwaya, back to Lagos island (City Hall Rooftop), then Victoria Island (Revolving Art Incubator, Silverbird Galleria), to a stop in Bariga (Crown troupe, Mbari Mbayo arts center) and Surulere (Corporate Dance World), before culminating at the National Theatre Iganmu. ”

Lagosians will witness an outpour of dance performances, exhibitions, international creative collaborations and exchanges including DANCING CITIES and CROSSINGS, amongst others. The gathering also aims to provide an array of opportunities for dancers across the country.
The festival will close at the National Theatre, with works by Onikeku himself along side a host of others, in collaboration with one of Nigeria’s leading theatre directors, Makinde Adeniran (of Saro, the musical).

danceGATHERING is the first of its kind in Nigeria and arguably West Africa, and we invite YOU to be part of this history-making event from February 20th to March 5th, 2017.

Press Release: danceGATHERING

Press Release: danceGATHERING

https://isysdrain.wordpress.com/danceGATHERING
#danceGATHERING

danceGATHERING : Repositioning dance in Nigeria. 

Lagos is set to play host to dancers and choreographers from Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Kaduna, Bamako, Tunis, Maputo, Washington and Paris, in a major dance gathering the country is to witness this year. The indefatigable QDanceCenter, a brainchild of Nigeria’s foremost dance export, Qudus Onikeku, is back this year with the debut edition of danceGATHERING | Lagos Contemporary Dance Festival. The laudable project had been given a major backing by the National Theatre, Institut Français, Goethe Institut and adopted by the Lagos @50 committee under the chairmanship of prof. Wole Soyinka. 

The event is designed to have a double face, a two weeks long dance lab (20 Feb. – 5 March 2017), which dissolves into a five days dance festival (1 – 5 March 2017) in various venues around Lagos. The artistic director of the festival, Onikeku, made it known through a statement that “the artistic directorial style of danceGATHERING 2017 proposes MOVEMENT as a major character, not solely a thing to be watched, but something that allows our audience to be jostled, activating different hotspots for dance in the breathtaking city of Lagos, making a deliberate action of turning the entire city into our play area.” 

https://isysdrain.wordpress.com/qudusonikeku
Qudus Onikeku

He further noted that “Because the city (of Lagos) is already noisy and fast and surreal, and dramatic with constant movements, I have curated a program, which rotates between 10 venues around Lagos, both in conventional spaces as well as improvised spaces. In a span of five days, we shall create an opportunity for our audience to step out of their comfort zones and move with the flow, going against traffic from Ikoyi (QDanceCenter, Omenka gallery, BogoBiri, JazzHole), to Iwaya, back to Lagos island (City Hall Rooftop), then Victoria Island(Revolving Art Incubator, Silverbird Galleria), to a stop in Bariga (Crown troupe, Mbari Mbayo arts center) and Surulere (Corporate Dance World), before culminating at the National Theatre Iganmu. ”

Within two weeks, Lagosians will witness an outpour of dance performances under DANCING CITIES and the INTERNATIONAL DANCE PLATFORM, there’ll equally be a dance and photography exhibition with the theme of MO|VE|MENTS, featuring 9 brilliant photographers from Lagos and Abuja, also in the program is CROSSINGS – an exciting creative space where 16 top Nigerian and international artist(e)s are paired to, share notes on their creative process andthought patterns before a live audience, not forgetting the MASTERCLASSES offered by the best in the field of dance, for practicing and prospective dancers.

At the danceGATHERING, there is something for everyone, and all the activities build up to the CLOSING NIGHT at the National Theatre, featuring two major works, one by the participants of the festival and another choreographed by the travelled dancer, choreographer and convener of the gathering himself, Qudus Onikeku, in collaboration with one of Nigeria’s leading theatre directors, Makinde Adeniran (of Saro, the musical).

For a Lagos Contemporary Dance Festival, where there are millions of people to be reached, danceGATHERING seeks to find new ways to be much more significant within such landscape, challenging both the local and visiting artistes to step out of bounds, provoke reactions and insist in being fully part of the city life, creating situations where a wider range of audience is stimulated and entertained, by providing for them a palette of diverse dance forms, both from the local and international dance artists. 

In that, the festival is therefore working to include dance, as part of the art forms rendering visible the multiple juxtapositions that shape daily life in Lagos. danceGATHERING is the first of its kind in Nigeria and arguable West Africa, and we invite you, a member of the fourth estate of the realm, and the people of Nigeria to be a part of this history-making event from February 20 to March 5 2017. 

My 2016: Mima

I am not particularly great at recollecting things of the past but I will try.

I started this year less prepared than I usually do, I was distracted by what seemed like cupid’s arrow but like I said, what “seemed”.

Anyway that is a story for the gods.

Thankfully, I had already visualized and written what I wanted for the new year as the previous year was winding up, so I had a guide that made things easier for my mind to identify the path to follow.

I am a workaholic and as usual all my plans were work related. Some of my goals for the year were to network more, collaborate and amplify the dance art produced by Krump Studios, grow the dancers I work with through exposure, showcase dance in different forms and challenge Dancers here in the North.

As part of that plan I came up with The Creative series:  Love & Jazz, For the love of hip hop, Omo Naija and Expressions of The Soul and a plan to send at least 3 of my staff for dance training in the United states.

With all those plans laid out, I still had unfinished business from 2015 so I started the year with “Abuja Choreographers’ ball” a competition to award young choreographers in Abuja and environs. The event had been moved from December 2015 to January 2016. The event held but I wasn’t satisfied with it. I realized even more after the event that there was a huge gap and a lot of dancers had little or no knowledge of the art of choreography here in Nigeria; with that I knew more inspiration and exposure was needed in these parts.

February, March and April came and so did the failed application for visas for my dancers as well as  fairly successful shows ; ‘Love and Jazz’, ‘For the love of hip-hop’ and ‘Omo naija’ and with this, my dance family grew in the midst of this wonderful experiences.

In February, I also began my second successful collaborative work with The Poet, Dike Chukwumerije and in the course of the year, we ran two more shows (September & December in Lagos).

From February to the month of May, I had experiences that showed me I still had a lot to learn on how to go about projects.

In April through June, I collaborated with my friend Qudus on his institute project in partnership with The German embassy and the French institute. The project aimed to create a unique dance production in Abuja City as well as have trainings for dancers .

Training for my dancers was a huge part of my goal and eventually I forged into pouring out myself towards ‘Expressions of the soul’ which was performed in August.

 In the midst of all the challenges and the financial setbacks towards the show, I guess I did something right with that one because I got awesome reviews and the attendance was Ok.

I also know it was an amazing experience for my dancers and team and I got the opportunity once again to collaborate with great people.

Another experience I had this year was hiring a Manager for my Studio, after 5 years of filling the position myself at the detriment of my personal career and creativity. I knew it was about time to take this step but it turned out to be an epic failure, the decision wasn’t bad just the lack of qualified candidates.

That goal is still yet to be achieved!

As a manager, it was an even more challenging experience managing people and resources in the year of “Recession” especially when very few individuals stand for anything other than money. There were times I secretly wished someone would come and buy my company so that I could run away and just go dance and choreograph.                       Thankfully, I am creatively finding a way to run a studio and be an Artistic Director, Dancer & Choreographer at the same time.

Not to turn my reflection to an advert or anythimg but I do believee I didn’t do half bad with my managerial planning either because Krump Studios will also be starting classes in Lagos come January 2017.

Well I ended the year also having the opportunity to meet with other choreographers from different parts on the continent and Europe at The Dance Africa Dance festival at Ouagadougou, got an invite to attend from the French institute in the bid to build on my network for future choreographic work and it was indeed an eye opener.

I would say not everything we desire comes the way we imagine them to come, it may come with challenges and may come in a different way and it may even take a lot from you but looking back at 2016…

I achieved 85% of my goals; organised (alongside an awesome team) all our planned events RAW, FIT 2 DANCE FIT 2 LIVE etc. I finished my Creative series with the Krump Team, I networked and had collaborations with wonderful people (DIKE CHUKWUMERIJE, QUDUS ONIKEKU, GERMAN EMBASSY, INSTITUT FRANCIA NIGERIA, ABUJA COLOUR BLAST, TRUE DANCE ART,3JS HOTEL E.TC)

I was able to organise workshops and collaborative trainings with Local and International Teachers that inspired dancers and I wasn’t left out of the loop this time, I was inspired too and I began to dance and create again.

As a bonus to the year, I even got elected as the Director for Duties for the Dance Guild of Nigeria; which I consider a privilege and an opportunity to help more dancers.

I even made my first painting this year .

I am not sure I have documented my 2016 so well however, one thing I can say is  in 2016 I gained a lot of valuable experiences and information, too much to process all at once.

I still have so much to learn but I am thankful I know how I can proceed in the coming year. I am glad we ended the year with smiles at Krump Studios.

I look forward to 2017 with an ease.
Have a wonderful New year.

Mima