Kigali hosts regional choreography workshop


South African choreographer and dance mentor Mantsoe takes participants through the drills. Courtesy photo

Twelve young contemporary dancers from across the continent are in Kigali for a two-week dance and choreography training.

The training is a joint project of Ecoles de Sables, a dance school based in Senegal in collaboration with Amizero Kompagnie, a local contemporary dance troupe.

Of the twelve participants, four are from Rwanda, two from Uganda, three from Kenya, two from Democratic Republic of Congo, while one is Tanzanian.

The dance workshop kicked off on Monday February 6th at the Kigali Sports Club (La Cercle Sportif de Kigali).

Vincent Sekwati Koko Mantsoe, a dancer, dance choreographer, teacher and mentor from South Africa is facilitating the workshop.

“My role is to give my knowledge to these young artists to be more openly creative and develop their own work in a broader sense. It’s a learning experience of how to use different materials when they go back to their own countries or even here in Rwanda because in most cases, young people learn from videos on YouTube, but it’s not the same as taking lessons from experienced mentors,” he explains.

Currently based in France, Mantsoe is the founder and Artistic Director of Association NOA-CIE Vincent Mantsoe, a non-profit dance company he created in 2005.

Wesley Ruzibiza, the founder and director of Amizero Dance Kompagnie, reveals that this is the longest contemporary dance workshop to come to Kigali so far.

“We had dance technique trainings at past festivals like the ‘East African Nights of Tolerance’ but a choreography training tool for young choreographers is a first. It’s very important because this kind of training doesn’t happen quite a lot not only in Rwanda but the entire East African region because there’s not a lot of institutions teaching contemporary dance around here,” he explains.

The participants hail from varied dance backgrounds, ranging from traditional dance, to hip hop, and contemporary dance.

“It was very important that we have a workshop like this in the region where there are people who have never been exposed to choreography workshop tools, not people that already know what to do. That was our condition for organising this workshop,” he added.

However, only two participants out of the ten are girls; Joselyne Murekatete from Rwanda, and Stella N. Situma from Kenya.

“We had a call of application and we didn’t get a lot of ladies applying. But even then, we had to pick only those that were deserving, so we ended up with only two,” Ruzibiza says.

The two ladies were not randomly selected just because no one else applied. Four girls applied, and two were selected due to their very qualified CV and experience in the sector,” Ruzibiza explains the low turnout of female participants.

On Friday February 17, the dancers will stage a performance at the residence of the Belgian ambassador to Rwanda to showcase the skills and techniques acquired from the workshop.