Africa is raising its voice in dance discourses. Africa Speaks was an inaugural panel discussion on among dance scholars and artists on the African continent. The panel was convened by Dr. Afdaniels Mabingo of Uganda and brought together distinguished dance scholars, administrators and practitioners from Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa to discuss dance practices in a changing world. Selected to represent South Africa were UCT dance academics Lisa Wilson and Maxwell Rani from the Centre of Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies. According to Wilson and Rani, holding such Pan-African spaces for the sharing of ideas and exploring this new territory of dance practices in the time of COVID-19 and beyond, as a collective, is relevant and significant.
The discussion provided insights on how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted, challenged, redefined cross-border creative collaborations from the African location and is reshaping the role, value and practices of a dance department within the African academic environment. The experienced panellists of Dance academics, Dance Festival and Company Directors brought rich perspectives and ideas to the table and were listened to by many on the continent and its Diaspora. Panellists were inspired by ideas such as the need for an Artist Cooperative Funding Initiative that could help cushion and sustain dance artists financially in times of economic crisis and the need to promote more Africanist dance pedagogies in dance education that speak to the holism and ecology of self that we are now being returned to in the time of Covid-19. Africa speaks aims to be a fireplace for conversations around dance and its development IN and FOR Africa. Its first session on July 8th , in the words of many of the attendees, was indeed “very warm”, “relevant” and “a good starting point” for a collective sustenance of dance in the region.
Contact usCentre for Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies University of Cape Town Private Bag X3 7701 Rondeboschctdps@uct.ac.za