Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Dance Center Presents U.S. Debut of Nigerian Dance Artist Qudus Onikeku March 13–14

Nigerian choreographer/dancer Qudus Onikeku makes his U.S. debut, accompanied by Uruguayan artist Fernando Velazquez and musicians, with his work Spirit Child March 13 and 14, presented by the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1306 S. Michigan Avenue.
Spirit Child is inspired by the main character in Nigerian author Ben Okri’s Booker Prize-winning novel The Famished Road. Azaro, the restless spirit child, is caught between life and death, between Earth-bound reality and an idyllic spirit world. Onikeku, with Velazquez and the musicians, has created an atmosphere of transition between the enchanted world of dreams and spirits and the world of the living. Spirit Child offers a meditative journey into dreamscapes, creating a poetry that brings a new kind of truth—or an old truth that no longer captures our attention.
These performances are the debut of Onikeku’s choreography on a major U.S. stage, though he has performed all over the world. He spent the fall 2018 semester at the Dance Center as practitioner-in-residence, working with students and setting work on those enrolled in the Repertory Performance Workshop.
Residency activities
There will be post-performance conversations with Onikeku after both performances. Additional residency activities with community partners and Columbia College Chicago students take place throughout the week leading up to the performance weekend.
Qudus Onikeku
A love for acrobatics at a young age led Qudus Onikeku to create a movement identity that fuses dance and acrobatics, while basing his choreography in Yoruba traditional philosophy combined with hip hop, capoeira, tai chi, and contemporary dance vocabularies to weave an understanding of dance, art, politics, and everything in between. In 2014, Onikeku founded the QDance Center, which blends artistry and community on both the grassroots and global levels, impacting nearly 50 countries worldwide. Its centerpiece event, danceGathering, is a two-week, collaborative, “anti-disciplinary” festival that gathers dancers, writers, musicians, architects, and scholars in Lagos.
Onikeku's artistic journey as a solo artist has intensified his interest in the aesthetics and artistry of African peoples in general. He writes, “I am particularly animated by body memory rather than history, by the will to reach out and touch the audience above the will to express something of the self, and, in so doing, I’ve constantly searched for ways to fuse poetic attitudes with African satirical and fictitious modes of storytelling, as in the griot tradition, combining  social history, collective memory or collective amnesia with personal autobiography, as a critical launching pad in the process of myth reading and communal rejuvenation.”

Qudus Onikeku performs his work Spirit Child
Friday and Saturday, March 13 and 14 at
7:30 p.m.
at the Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. 

Tickets are $30, $24 for seniors and $10 for students,
available at or by calling 312-369-8330.
Patrons save 25% with a subscription 
to three or more
performances and dates. All programming is subject to change.

The Dance Center’s presentation of Qudus Onikeku is made possible by FUSED (French U.S. Exchange in Dance), a program developed by FACE Foundation and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States with support from the Florence Gould Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Institut français-Paris, the French Ministry of Culture, and private donors. This project is partially supported by a grant from the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Columbia College Chicago.
The Dance Center
The Dance Center’s 2019–20 season concludes with Abby Z and the New Utility in their Chicago debut April 9–11.

The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago is the city’s leading presenter of contemporary dance, showcasing artists of regional, national and international significance. The Dance Center has been named “Chicago’s Best Dance Theatre” by Chicago magazine, “Best Dance Venue” by the Chicago Reader and Chicago’s top dance venue by Newcity, and Time Out Chicago cited it as “…consistently offering one of Chicago’s strongest lineups of contemporary and experimental touring dance companies.” The Dance Center recently celebrated 45 years of presenting contemporary dance in Chicago.
Programs at the Dance Center are supported, in part, by the Alphawood Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the Martha Struthers Farley and Donald C. Farley Jr. Family Foundation, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, the Irving Harris Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Presenting Series is also supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Illinois Arts Council Agency and the Crane Group. Additional project support, in part, by a grant from the Western Arts Alliance Advancing Indigenous Performance Touring Fund and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Supplemental support includes FUSED (French U.S. Exchange in Dance), a program developed by FACE Foundation and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States with the support from the Florence Gould Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Institut français-Paris, the French Ministry of Culture, and private donors. Special thanks to the Friends of the Dance Center for their generous contributions to the Dance Center’s work.

All photos of Qudus Onikeku in Spirit Child are by Fernando Velazquez.

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