Dance Week Uganda sets benchmark for performance

Saturday March 10 2012

A member of Break Dance Project.

A member of Break Dance Project. PHOTO BRIAN MAGOBA  


Its easy to get cynical about your art when you are in contact with it each day, but last week at the Uganda National Theater’s Dance Week Festival Uganda(DWF), I fell in love with dance. It was not just the obvious mushy feeling towards the art coming from the overtly enthusiastic DWF crowd, these were three voices, three entertaining works in three nights. And then Julius Lugaya, founder of the festival had me at hello.

When DWF took the stage for its ninth edition, I was thrown off by choice especially since there were over 80 dancers performing in about 30 pieces.
There is no question of athleticism of the dancers who moved with force and confidence, flaunting stamina and flexibility. The choreography hovered between intimately human at times distant and inanimate in the next second.

The slow solos focused on floor work, exploring bridges and planks with long extensions of a leg or hand which suddenly flips focus as the dancer bolts around stage with quick leaps and turns. The moods shift with out warning, chasing the musical score. In this case dance ditched its tights for some thing different.

Notably, Break Dance Project Uganda took the stage with such nonchalance that they could be swooning by an upscale bar instead. They begun in spotlight, flirting with the audience with cranky sequences, looking for our approval after each. In this section they unintentionally educated us about the beats, breaking them down and then bringing them to full speed.

Just when you think the show might be finished the lights come up for full action to “Lucifer Vs Angel Gabriel” by Latin Flavor Uganda, their imagination of the coming of Christ. This is salsa. Making each tap step a full bodied movement they triumph through illustration and sound spinning and sliding across the space.The massage is this: versatility wins.

Almost every dance fanatic is familiar with Uganda National Contemporary Ballet. ‘Out of control’ a controversial piece created with audacity and sensuality and revisited in modern times is one not to forget.


To finish the evening was LXD, winners of 2011’s edition of Hot steps with a piece entitled ‘Ways of Success”. Here we are introduced to particular vocabulary which “dancifies” many every day gestures with witty effect. The movement is altogether wholly physical and minuscule. It is disjointed and sudden. Soon we get a delightful all male section that feels every corner of the space with bolting, cross path ways. Next we see a much quieter section where they clump with only subtlest variation of unison, because of their contained energy, the intensity of their focus is magnified.