Continental dance festival is back


The festival uses workshops and stage acts to showcase contemporary dance as a tool for dialogue in East Africa. Courtesy.

The annual East African Nights of Tolerance (EANT), a contemporary dance festival is back. Founded in 2012, the festival is a week-long celebration of contemporary dance in Kigali.

It features a catalogue of high quality dance performances and workshops, comprising dancers and dance troupes from Rwanda, East Africa and beyond.

In its sixth edition, this year’s festival runs from November 28 to December 3 at various locations around Kigali. During the week, dance lovers will be treated to nights of electric dance performances from traditional to contemporary genres and beyond. The theme for this year is “Au Feminin, French for “In the feminine.”

“We are collaborating with world class professional dancers from three continents whose work falls in line with this year’s theme,” explained Wesley Ruzibiza, founding director of the festival.

A contemporary dancer and choreographer, Ruzibiza is also the founder of Amizero Dance Kompagnie, a local contemporary dance troupe that is behind the festival.

He explained that the festival serves as a platform for regional integration and capacity building, as well as a tool for peace and tolerance through dance performances.

“Popular belief is that this type of art form is not suited for Rwandan audiences and is only targeting the expatriate community. We wanted to test this assumption and for us to continue this adventure it was necessary to make sure that local audiences would pick interest in this festival, attending, participating and therefore making it sustainable in the long run,” said Ruzibiza.

To add substance to the theme, the focus this year is on group performances, although these will be spiced up by a few solo performances.

There will also be dance workshops designed for a select number of professional dancers from Rwanda and neighbouring countries in the spirit of co-creating and creative collaboration.

There will also be master classes in dance facilitated by some of this year’s performers including;

Amizero Kompagnie (Rwanda), Batalo East (Uganda), Wanjiru Kamuyu (Kenya), Collective East By East, (DRC) and Michel Ndjogui (Cameroon). Other dance troupes that will provide dance classes include Duo Alou from Togo, She Poem (Tanzania and Spain), Nadine Baboy (Belgium), and Speed Battle (Belgium and France).

The festival will also draw some of the most experienced dance festival curators from across the globe. These include;

Abdul Muyingo from Batalo East (Uganda); Freddy Sabimbona from Buja Sans Tabou Festival Burundi; Acley Alphonse from Haba Na Haba Dance Festival Tanzania, Rachel Kessi from Time To Dance Tanzania, and Vincent Harisdo from Atelier 14 France, among others.

Some of the popular themes that will be tackled in the dance performances include; street children, child soldiers, and the everyday battle for survival in wider society. The dance performances are usually spiced up by song and poetry.

“Our main objective is to promote dialogue and strengthen communities through the arts within Rwanda and the East African region, and to support professionalisation of the dance sector through capacity building activities,” Ruzibiza further explained.

“To do so, we support and encourage Rwandan dance companies to create and engage in contemporary dance by offering a week of professional training during the festival and featuring them in our performance program.”