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Repositioning dance, dancers as brands

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Repositioning dance, dancers as brands

Despite the successes by notable dancers and choreographers in Nigeria, the perception of dance as a profession appears not to have changed much. And for the upcoming dancers, it is among sundry challenges that they have to contend with.

Against this backdrop, the Guild of Nigerian Dancers (GOND) recently organized a seminar in Lagos.

The event which was held at the Corporate Dance World Studios, Eric Moore Road, Lagos, was also aimed at exploring “Career Opportunities and Growth in the Nigerian Dance Industry”. 

It brought together celebrated and upcoming dancers and choreographers, including foremost choreographer and the Director, (Dance), National Troupe of Nigeria and the chairman of the National Advisory Council of GOND, Dr. Anold Udoka, Senior Lecturer, Creative Arts Department, University of Lagos,  Dr. Felix Emoruwa, one of the leading female dancers, choreographer, dance instructor and fitness coach, Kafayat Oluwatoyin Shafau, popularly known by her stage name Kaffy, the co-founder and artistic director/choreographer of the acclaimed Crown Troupe of Africa, a performance art company, Segun Adefila, who were the resources persons, and others.

Speaking to New Telegraph on the significance of the programme and developments in dance industry, Udoka, said the perception about dance and dancers is slowly beginning to change but not fully because a greater percentage of those who see the artistes, and who think about the artiste are especially the people in the rural areas.

“The significance of the seminar is to stir the consciousness about the growth of dance as an industry. We have a lot of talented young dancers; we have to tell them that beyond the talent, there is skill, ands to acquire that skill there are ethics. You might be a professional because you draw your living from dancing, but without the ethics the industry cannot grow.

“So, this seminar is to talk to them about the art of dance, what it entails, in other for us to be able to brand it as an industry. There is so much stigma about the dancer in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, they believe that we are all illiterate. But you know as well as I do that none of us is. So, we have to be able to push those who are coming after us, who might not even have the opportunity of being in same big schools like some of us have been to, who are already working with us, to contribute not just their bodies and their minds but also their intellects, and the discipline in building a stature for dance as an industry in Nigeria,” he said.

According to him, “a lot still has to be done in terms of the policy, the cultural policy and the implementation of that policy, and in terms of introducing dance into the primary and secondary school curricular. As long as they are not there; as long as dance is not a subject that you can take an examination in, people will just see it as a pastime. So, people should not meet dance in the university for the first time in their lives as an academic subject, they should meet it as an academic subject in primary school if parents realise that their children can study dance as a scoring subject at the primary and secondary school levels they will take it seriously. 

There are a lot of opportunities; there are about 38 job opportunities in dance.  So, just imagine this country exporting dance experts in different fields.”

Also in a chat with New Telegraph, President of GOND, Adedayo Liadi, popularly known as Ijodee or Olorioko, Liadi, noted that it is their first seminar since we they came into office. “It is part of the reorientation programme that we talked about, which we promised Nigerian dancers. For many years we have not been having this kind of educational programme among dancers. We, dancers, are known to be practical persons, dance, dance and dance on stage or on screen. That is all they see us do on stage or screen. So, we thought about how we can sensitize people about the next level, because it will get to a stage in your life as a dancer, just like me now, I am more of a consultant and a director, and I produce, and I am still a dancer, although, I dance when I feel like dancing. So, this kind of reorientation programme will help in educating the young dancers of today.”

On his advice for the upcoming dancers, Liadi said: It is for them is to learn from those that have come before them; be humble to learn; and they should be able to persevere because as a performer, it is energy sapping. II can assure you of one thing: there is a future for you as a dancer.”

Similarly, Kaffy, who spoke on dance as a brand, said the seminar is timely. “It is what is needed. Earlier in June this year, I also did a similar dance workshop. Tagged that dance is a serious business, that is because we are trying to help educate, enlighten and create awareness about how much potential our industry has, and how little we are harnessing it, and to educate the practitioners on how to evolve into that industry. So, coming to this seminar that God has prepared is just to show that we are on the right track. More and more seminars like this need to me done. A lot of these dancers are acting more out of ignorance than anything else. And they say ignorance is a disease, we need to treat, and the cure is information. So, if we are able to create a scenario where people are more informed, more enlightened, they will behave differently; they will act differently. They will pursue career with caution and understanding of how well to make their potentials. So this is a great initiative.

“A dance brand is built based on the philosophy of the drive, the goal, and what it is that you want to achieve; how you influence people, what is it that you arouse in people as a brand; how to understand and identify those elements and market it. When you market it, you are driving the economic status of brand up. That means demand and supply; the more demand you are in, the better you can function as a dancer; the better you can even grow. Being a brand does not limit you to being stagnant you also need to improve on your skill set, and understanding towards the marketing of such a brand. So, I believe that for somebody to be effective as a dance brand, it really depends on the person’s philosophy of success; attaining success, retaining it and evolving with it. And that is what will sustain the brand.

“Dancers need to get more information. I feel that we have over flogged and understood the idea of performing, that we can perform. We know that we can all dance; what we need to now understand is ‘how do we sell it? How do we get people to recognize it as a career choice? How do we sustain ourselves as a brand? How do we guarantee the future of the younger ones?

Adefila also commended GOND for organising the seminar, noting that it is coming at a very good time. “I wish we had more of this before now, maybe some of us would have benefited from it decades ago when we started.

“I talked about dance ethics, what is required of a dancer. Basically, what others have been talking about since we came in here is how we see ourselves as dancers, and if there is any prospect in it. Can we boastfully say when medical doctors step out, lawyers, accountants, engineers and others step out to declare their profession, can we come out declare our profession as a dancer, and be respected as one; not as a dancer but as a professional.” 

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Arts & Entertainments

I’m not in coma- Mike Okri

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Mike Okri, a Nigerian singer has denied reports that he was in coma or life support.

The Omoge crooner stated this while reacting to a Facebook post by Azuka Jebose who said the singer was in a coma at an undisclosed Lagos hospital.

“An unconfirmed report from Lagos disclosed that Nigeria’s late 80s mega soul singer, Mike Okri, is on life support at an Intensive Care Unit of a Lagos Hospital. Sources close to the great singer’s family are still mute, as such, latest information is very sketchy,” Jebose had written.

Jebose later posted an update after speaking with the ‘Time Na Money’ singer.

“I spoke to Mike a few minutes ago on the phone,” the former Punch journalist wrote.

He quoted the singer as saying “I was hospitalised for few days. I had typhoid malaria. I am now home, recuperating.”

Recall that veteran reggae musician, Ras Kimono, died last week in Lagos.

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Arts & Entertainments

Artists-in-residence maiden edition holds at Alexis Galleries

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Artists-in-residence maiden edition holds at Alexis Galleries

Alexis Galleries has commenced the maiden edition of its Artistin- residence. The residency programme, which began on May 14, is aimed at promoting artists from across Africa and African Arts in general. In this maiden edition, six artists from Ghana, Ibadan, Abuja and Lagos, participated in the one-month programme which ended on June 14, and the works will be exhibited sometime in October this year. Speaking at a media parley recently, the CEO of Alexis Galleries and The HomeStores, Patty Chidiac-Mastrogiannis, said some of the artists on parade were: John Oyedemi (painter) Samuel Tete-Kancharn (painter/sculptor), Oyelusi Olasunkanmi (painter) Olorunyemi Kolapo Obadiah (painter), Sunday Isaac Effiiong (metal sculptor) and Oluwole Omofemi (painter).

She said: “We plan to organise it every three or two months as Alexis Galleries has in eight years of existence supported artists in the promotion of their works and organisation of exhibitions with them. “We are trying to see how we can put the artists on a greater pedestal with our residency programmes, workshop and lectures.

“The gallery’s line-up is hand selected with the utmost care and features emerging and established artists, who come from within and outside Nigeria, providing diversity in content, perspective and style.

“More so, the gallery has a deep appreciation for the positive role which artists, cultural institutions and nonprofit are playing in the development of African Arts. We hope to get a milestone results from this residency.” Oyedemi, who graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State with a B.A., M.F.A. Painting, PhD, has also been practising for over two decades.

His paintings are based on exerted daily human activities captured in warm colours, juxtaposition of grey and colour culminating into dynamic movements on canvas. It chronicle’s the challenges of urban and social realities.

“The paintings are imbued with much gestural energy to portray thoughts of the moment of the artist. The subject represented are market scenes, Lagos yellow buses, Polo and Durba from the Northern part of Nigeria rendered in an impressionistic tradition and textured with palette knife to create a tactile effect on canvas. Obadiah is an Abuja-based multimedia, full time studio artist. He is a graduate of Pure and Applied Physics from Kogi State University.

Kolapo is a crowned Artist of the week in AFRO-MEDIA ART (Kenya) on the first week of December 2014. He hosts a yearly solo art exhibition called smART (sentient multimedia art) exhibition since 2013. He has participated in local and international exhibitions.

Tete-Katchan was born in in Vogan, Togo and he currently resides in Accra, Ghana. Upon completion of his secondary school education, he chose to pursue a career in the Arts to express his kaleidoscopic vision of the world.

He underwent his apprenticeship in 1997 at the studio of Mr. Joseph Amedokpo, studying and developing his own style from the ‘Oshogbo Art’ from the South West of Nigeria.

Omofemi is an accomplished visual artist. He had his Ordinary National Diploma (OND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) in Fine Art at The Polytechnic Ibadan. He has participated in many group exhibitions both locally and internationally. His artistic imagination is fed by childhood experiences in the back street of Ibadan. Olasunkanmi had his early education in Lagos and higher education at the Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State in 2013.

He graduated with a HND (Upper Credit) in painting from the same school and participated in various art exhibitions within and outside Nigeria. Effiong trained under the auspices of the metal sculptor, Odogwu Fidelis, at the Universal Studios of Art, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, completing his apprenticeship. A full-time studio artist, he has executed some commissioned works around Victoria Island and Ajah, Lagos State.

Speaking further, Chidiac-Mastrogiannis said: “In eight years, Alexis Galleries has engaged in the presentation and dissemination of contemporary art in the media of painting, drawing, mixed media and sculpture. “We have established ourselves rapidly as one of the best galleries in Nigeria, a meeting place for artists, collectors and enthusiasts of art.”

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Arts & Entertainments

I was born to be an entertainer – Ushbebe

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I was born to be an entertainer – Ushbebe

Comedian, Ushbebe, has said he is not in the entertainment circuit on an accidental basis. Born Justice Nuagbe, the OAP who is also an actor, said being an entertainer is his calling. Speaking at the premiere of Eniola Badmus’ new movie, Ghetto Bred, Ushbebe says being an actor/comic is more than what a job represents to him.

“It’s not just about a job for me, this is what I was born to do, so we just getting started,” he told TheCable. When asked how he also combines acting, comedy with his radio career, he said: “I’m a theatre artist, it’s what I studied. So na my work… it’s like asking someone who does business/marketing about their job.

Me, my director & A.Y were all in the same department, so it’s what we do. Ushbebe further described Ghetto Bred as “one of the most interesting movies” he has ever been involved in. “This happens to be one of the interesting movies I’ve been in,” he added of the comedy film which also features Helen Paul, Nedu, Broda Shaggi, Yaw among others

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