Passing a sombre message through dance

Saturday November 20 2021

The presentation depicts the pandemic phases and effects. PHOTO | ANDREW I. KAZIBWE


Conveying a complex issue through dance is one way of passing a message. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and social events were shut down, Rwandan entertainment audiences stayed home. However, they recently had a chance to enjoy a public contemporary dance performance.

Titled The Little Invisible Things, the performance reflects the pandemic, how it took shape, and its deep physical and emotional impact on the society.

From ancient times, African dance has been used to express and convey messages to society. The Invisible Things, a 45-minute production, reminds us of this tradition.

The production, which was staged at L’Espace in Kacyiru, Kigali, captures one’s attention with its well-lit stage setting and co-ordinated movements of the four dancers.

Directed and choreographed by Wesley Ruzibiza , the performance premiered as part of the 2021 Hamwe Festival’s activities.

The performance starts with the dancers, all wearing white, each seated on a chair. They are reading, sorting beans, weaving, and one sits still, in contemplation. This is a reflection of how the lockdown hit, where everyone was confined in their homes, glued to an activity.


Uneasy with confinement

However, the stillness doesn’t last long as they are soon unsettled, dissatisfied and uneasy with the confinement. Scratching their heads in confusion, they check their wrists as if they are in chain.

 Dance production

Family wrangles as portrayed in the dance production held recently at L'Espace in Kacyiru, Kigali. PHOTO | ANDREW I. KAZIBWE

The performance also takes the audience into a phase similar to the standard operating procedure of social distancing, as the dancers move without close bodily contact. This portrays the solitude that was created by the new health guidelines. Other moves creatively imitate hand-washing.

The last part of the performance, titled Untold Stories, depicts what really went on behind closed doors. Two couples are in conflict. One couple represents violent abuse by a woman against her man, and the other of a man against a woman. Misery, beatings, violence and splitting up are portrayed by the dancers. Many families can relate to these scenes.

In the dance, the chair remains a part of each person’s life, for they still find themselves stuck, back seated in it.

The performance incorporates an Ikinyarwanda dance, as well as contemporary and African music using modern and traditional instruments. Narrations are done in English, Kinyarwanda, Swahili, French, and Lingala.

The lighting paints the mood and emotions of the presentation.