East African Nights of Tolerance returns

This year’s festival will feature performances by professional dancers from across the region.

East African Nights of Tolerance (EANT), an annual showcase of Contemporary Dance from Rwanda and East Africa, is back.

This year, the event takes place between October 26-27 at the  Kigali Cultural Village (KCV). Performances will come from contemporary dance troupes from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, the DRC, and Burundi, which is participating for the first time. This year’s theme is: Political Body.

EANT, was founded in 2012, by Rwandan dancer and choreographer Wesley Ruzibiza, also the founder of Amizero Dance Company.

Wesley Ruzibiza is a choreographer, actor and founder of East African Nights of Tolerance. He promises festival goers nothing but great dance performances.  Courtesy photos.

During the festival, the dance troupes from the different countries will present works that they created from a two week coaching and training program that kicked off on October 8, at various art spaces in Kigali.

The opening night will feature three dance pieces, and a small show by a young Rwandan choreographer who will be working with child dancers. First on stage will be the Snipers Crew and The Guardians Crew from Rwanda in a joint piece, followed by Frank Mugisha from Uganda, who will present a solo piece titled Pride. The Arsenic Dance troupe from the DRC will present a closing a piece titled Terre d’Espoir.

Day Two will feature performances from the Snipers Crew and The Guardians, Incuti Dance Company from Burundi, Bienco Luanda Hangi from the DRC, and Wakisha from Rwanda.

Wakisha is a local women’s dance troupe, and it’s the first time that a women’s group is taking part in the festival. 

According to Wesley Ruzibiza, the group will present a piece with which they will hopefully tour the world, after a Rwandan showcase.

New format

“We have completely changed the formula of the festival. We used to have four nights of performances, but this year we have four programs in this edition. Instead of four nights where we bring people from abroad and they perform only once, and wait one year to do something new, we split the festival into four segments during the year,” Ruzibiza revealed, adding that next year, the festival will be staged in March, June, September, and December.

“We want to focus more on national and regional training of the dancers. The idea is, how do we build this dance sector in Rwanda, and how do we contribute in training of other dancers in the region -people like Time To Dance in Tanzania, and Batalo East in Uganda. So the idea is having different trainings with showings at the end.”

Contemporary dancers at a past festival in Kigali. 

This time, the trainings were more focused on choreography. The trainings are being conducted by trainers from Uganda, Norway, and France, on an exchange programme.

“EANT was more a platform of presentation, but now is changing into a training oriented platform and also capacity building,” Ruzibiza further revealed. 

He was all praises for local arts and culture sector players who threw their weight behind the festival this year, unlike previous editions.

“Mashirika offered rehearsal space for free, the Rwanda Organization of Performing Arts Sector offered rehearsal space in their studio in Kimironko where the women from Wakisha are rehearsing, and also helping us with administration. Positive Productions did Production work for us, Iyugi Creative gave us some funds to help transport the Burundian crew, while the Rwanda Arts Initiative gave us space and helped with communication. The Goethe Institute funded training for the women and brought in trainers from abroad.”

Seven years down the road, the festival has been able to build a critical network with all countries in the East African region, with Ethiopia soon joining the fray.

“We have different instances where dancers from Rwanda have been to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, DRC.We have tangible results in terms of numbers of dancers that are professional today because of the platform that we offered them in terms of training and in terms of exposure. We have trained more than 1,000 dancers in seven years, and some are at the level of working abroad today. So I’m very humbled and at the same time proud of what we have achieved so far. But I know that there is still more work to do.”