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Awobajo: I feel burdened to save indigenous dances



Awobajo: I feel burdened to save indigenous dances


The recently commissioned Seaside Cottage Theatre, Isale Akoka, Bariga, Lagos, came alive with colourful, vibrant and inspiring performances penultimate Monday as Footprints of David (FOD), one of the leading children orientated theatre outfits in Lagos, held the maiden edition of its dance grading ceremony series.

It was no doubt a worthwhile experience for observers, participants as well as guests at the event, which featured recital of dance styles and music from the Northern part of the country, as performed by selected members of FOD and its Gang having been trained in this classical expression in the last two years.

The globally acclaimed Footprints of David Art Academy (FOD), which started as a community development campaign using theatre as the wheel of progress towards pragmatic societal change by taking children off the street and training them in the Arts, has continued to make giant strides in theatrical exploits since the 2005, the robust repertoire of which is evident in their outings at local and international art festivals. The group won Lagos State Government Performance Art Excellence Award from Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode. It featured prominently during the various visits of presidents of Germany and France to Nigeria.


At the event, the ensemble thrilled the audience with folksongs from the Northern part of the country before delving into the business of the day, performances of select indigenous dances styles from the North, namely Kifi, Bori, Asharuwa, Jatau, Mar’do, Irotsu, Kalangu, as the final exam by the young thespians who have undergone training for two years under brilliant scholars and veterans in that dimension of the Arts such as Sunday Boyi, Musa Bulus Yaro, Micheal Emmanuel Atsi, Tongak Deshi, Paradang Kevin and Gyang Matthew (aka Speedboat).


Sunday Boyi is a well-known multi-instrumentalist, drummer, a singer and master of Garaya string instrument; while Musa Bulus Yaro is a master drummer with the Plateau State Council for Arts and Culture, Jos, and traditional music scholar serving as cultural Assistant at the university of Jos with in-depth knowledge spanning over three decades. Micheal Emmanuel Atsi is the dance captain of the Plateau State Council for Arts and Culture, and, arguably, one of the most experienced choreographers on indigenous dance styles of Plateau State. Tongak Deshi is a skillful in different musical instruments, flutist, horns-master, drummer, xylophonist and xylophone engineer, and also member of the National troupe of Nigeria; Paradang Kevin, a choreographer, dancer, actor, cultural assistant with the University of Jos; and Gyang Matthew (aka Speedboat), an award winning dancer, choreographer, dance instructor, actor, flutist and the dance captain of the National Troupe of Nigeria.


Explaining further on the significance of the event, founder of Footprints of David, Seun Awobajo, said: “I feel a burden to teach the Northern Dance style in order to save our indigenous dances from an untimely exit, hence, the rationale for holding the ceremony. This move is instructive because as an all Children theatre troupe, this will be setting an unprecedented example for the younger generation to emulate, the lessons for them to never exculpate the ancient landmarks.”


Highlights of the event include the presentation of awards and Diploma Certificates to deserving students in every category in the various northern dance styles as was deemed fit by the college of instructors, who judged the students based on their articulation, understanding, ability and clarity of each dance style while the training exercise lasted.


“This training and certification is endorsed and supported by the Wole Soyinka Foundation, Lagos state Ministry of Tourism, National Association of Nigeria Theatre Art Practitioners (NANTAP) – Lagos chapter, Nigerian Film Corporation, Jos, Plateau State Council for Art and Culture, Art and culture, Guild of Nigerian Dancers (National and Eko Gond), Bariga LCDA, and Bariga Artists Forum (BAF).

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