Inter-generational Dialogue Forum on Dance & Conceptual Arts

The Inter-generational Dialogue Forum on Dance & Conceptual Arts was held at the Go Down Arts Centre in February 2019. The forum drew the participation of over fifty creative sector stakeholders drawn from local dance groups, academia, government agencies, media and members of the Creative Economy Working Group.

The Forum incorporated panel discussions, experience sharing and dance performances. The session started with an overview of the Evolution of Dance in Kenya given from the perspective of James Mweu, founder of Kunja Dance Theatre.

In discussion on The Economy of Dance: Earning a livelihood from dance, panelists discussed opportunities for Dance in Kenya. The panelists noted that getting value for their work is often a challenge. For some dancers their work is appreciated more in other countries and not Kenya, pointing to a need to build audiences for both contemporary and traditional dance locally.

The discussions highlighted the need for a structured approach to the promotion of the Performing Arts among local audiences through the education system and a deliberate program to showcase and Kenyan performance arts during government functions. Panelists Included Kanda King and Mathiew Ondiege

The panel discussion on Continuity & Sustainability – Training, Influences and Evolving forms featured traditional dance artist Dinah Abok and choreographer Kahithe Kiiru. The panel explored opportunities to grow dance in Kenya, managing the influence of other dance forms on the traditional/Kenyan dance and training in dance. It was noted that through globalization both Kenyan performers and audiences have been exposed to the dance traditions and practice of other parts of the world and this has had an impact on Kenyan performances. Documentation and training was posited as one of the ways to preserve Kenya’s traditional dance culture.

A panel on Emerging Kenyan Conceptual Art had panelists including Wambui Collymore and Thandiwe Muriu discussed how their work has been received in Kenya. Conceptual Art differs from traditional art in that the idea or concept and not the aesthetics is the most important aspect of the work. Panelists shared the experience of showcasing their work and the interesting discussions that came out of the responses to their installations. They noted that while conceptual art has grown among other audiences, it is still in its developmental stage in Kenya.

The discussions were enriched by performances by Artzone, Sarah Kwala and Jack Bryton,

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