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Dance Gathering 2018

secret dance from Q-Dance
secret dance from Q-Dance
Back in the 1960s, Broad street in Lagos Island, a few meters away from Nigeria's central bank and stock exchange, was a fine address. Fast forward to 2018, Broad street is a hip street for street parties, the latest of which is called Dance Gathering 2018. It happened along the walls of the former prison yard, now called Freedom Park which has been redeveloped into a leisure park in 2010. The area feels like it did not change much over the past 50 years, albeit the wrinkles of time, heat and humidity. For instance, the building of the National Archives that has been exposing archive files through an open roof for a number of years has finally been emptied.
The party started very quietly around 4pm. Like all parties or functions here, the opening time is the time for organisers to start organising (or at least getting to get things going) and by no means the beginning of the show.
The street had been partitioned in several zones, each one would be the center of a particular performance. Next to the entrance of Freedom Park, a couple of young guys performed hip-hop moves. A fire-eater, with a heavily tattooed back, ended-up his show by weaving a long wire out of his mouth. A traditional group of dancers from the north of Nigeria, judging by their outfit, filled up the road with a lively choreography.
the North is jumping
the North is jumping
A man, called Enipataki, had a bit more elaborate show displaying every muscles of his upper body harmoniously bending his body in a snake-like manner to the sound of some tragic music: he clearly had a message addressed to the world.
The corner of Brook street had an open coffin painted in brown with Christian crossed erected in front of it. This set-up inspired a man, a passer-by with a wooden cane, to dance between the crosses and the coffin. At some point he took out a bible from his leather bag and started to read it solemnly. Brook street actually has some coffin sellers along the wall of Freedom Park towards the Holy Cross cathedral.
Then came the turn of the Q-Dance group who added musicians to the dancers. A trumpeter was calling wailing women into a monotonous chant. Drums were structuring the rhythm of bodies. A beautiful young woman wore a white robe on which documents were glues, they looked like official papers, on sheet had the word «secret» written over it. At one point of the choreography, the secret wearer was agonizing in the middle of male dancers, one of them holding her tenderly in his arms with the wall of the former jail as a backdrop. The whole thing was most certainly a satyre of justice and corruption.
a man attempting to reason a special woman
a man attempting to reason a special woman
Again at the corner of Brook street, a CBD (Central Business District) concrete block on which a throne had been mounted was covered in white cloth.  On the throne sat a woman, just as immaculate in her dress, who would play with her hair and some ropes for a few hours indifferent to what going on around her.
As the night fell, a few performances happened along the old national archives building.
Q-Dance - precarious couple
Q-Dance - precarious couple
The Q-Dance company used the first floor of the now empty building for a night choreography involving a woman and man who appeared to be lamenting about their condition, perhaps as a couple or something more elaborate which I did not get. It was however a performance not devoid of risk as the man crossed from one empty window to the next on the outer facade. A set of bricks from the facade collapsed as he was trying to descend into the street. Fortunately the street side had been padded with old car-tyres sprayed with yellow paint, so it would have been a lesser shock to fall down from the 1st floor. The woman did an interesting dance playing with a white curtain closing on of the windows of the building.
A band played to create a sound background. They were performing next to an abandoned white pick-up which the percussionist brilliantly used to enhance the range of his instruments.
I missed the dance competition which would see the youth express themselves and fight for the winning position.
Broad street has recovered some of its hype for a few hours.


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