Movement For Humanity - Rwanda Dance Project June 2016

15th July 2016: The day of the performance. Everything came together all at the right time. This has been one of the most challenging projects I've ever been involved in, but everything worked out in time and within our budget. We found a costume designer who designed incredible costumes for our dancers. The performance was incredible, the dancers really gave it their all and we couldn't be more proud. Thank you again for all who have donated and made this project a reality!

This image was taken during the performance, and this section was titled 'the crossing'.
Costuming: Becky Bodurtha
Lighting: Megan Lang
Stage design: Matt Deely
Choreographers: Tjarda Van Straten & Hilde Cannoodt
Dancers: Yvette, Simon, Abdoul, Gicanda, Wendy, Nina & Alex


1st July 2016: Today is day 5 of our Movement for Humanity project. We have been working intensively with our 7 dancers for the past week. We started the week introducing Laban principles in which we taught dynamic and spatial structures, discussed actions, body and relationship structures in movement. On Wednesday we introduced the theme of the piece: the void that humans experience when they are forced to leave their country, their family, their lives and their history behind and the humanities and inhumanities that take place during their displacement. More info on the work we are making is at the bottom of this page.

25th June 2016: Day 4: Thursday evening we drove to the Huye district, about 2.5 hours drive from Kigali. It is a lot more rural here, and there are less tourists which leads to quite a few looks from the local community. I am working on this side project aside from our Movement For Humanity project which is discovering which local communities engage themselves in dance and exchanging with them through dance. Yesterday we went to a primary school in Simbi, where some of the children are in the school's dance company performing traditional Rwandan dance. We arrived and they performed for us, with live drumming by one of the school teachers and some of the school children. I then taught a short dance sequence which we performed for the rest of the school, followed by an improv circle where the kids could show off their moves. It was very heartwarming and such an incredible experience! Some of the money that I raised as a side project will go towards costuming for the dancers. More projects will come up for which we are going to donate. You can still donate via this link.

23rd June 2016: Day 2 in Rwanda: Tjarda and I arrived safely in Kigali on Tuesday evening. We've had a quiet few days, settling in and resting after our big journey. Last night we met the Ubumuntu festival organisers. We will be working with 7 dancers that will be involved in our project, 3 men and 4 women. The rehearsals will start on Monday the 27th June, each day from 2-6pm. Today we visited the Genocide Memorial, where world renowned stage designer Matt Deely is building the stage for theUbumuntu festival. Because Rwanda does not have an indoor theatre, the stage will be built at the amphitheatre at the memorial site, an outdoor space in the centre of Kigali. Such an incredible place at such a powerful location...

23rd May 2016: WE DID IT! 106 backers donated 7535 euros in 45 days! Tjarda and I cannot thank our sponsors enough. Please stay tuned for all updates. We will be in Rwanda from 20th June - 19th July to work on this project.









Thank you for backing our project so far:

Annelies Jansen
Charlotte Desorgher
Muriel Dijkman
Anasma Vuong-Rajau
Gudrun Herold
Kamala Devam
Luk Cannoodt
Kami Liddle
Yvette Cowles
Iris Knippels
Angie Ross
Wilma Brouwer
Jan en Dirrie van Straten
Wilma Knulst
Maija Rivenburg
Maartje Nieuwint
Gustavo Adolfo González Alfaya
Safiya Waley
Jeroen Bakker
Liesbeth Alen
Nadia Hoodbhoy
Karen Bradley
Soheila Hogervorst
Darrel Reuben Hall
Nicola Cotelo
Lily Cotelo
Niels Jansen
Jesse Stanbridge
Ariellah Aflalo
Anneke Rooth
Philippa Gebhardt
Michelle Yembra
Steven Cannoodt
Stefanie van der Zwaal
Christine Eichendorf
Stephanie van der Klaauw
Sue Illsley
Erik Ehn
James Turnbull
Kaneza Schaal
Carry Hergaarden
Lea Roelens
Katherine Brierly
Sway Efey
Olivia Kissel
Fieke Dieleman
Susan Frankovich

Hope Azeda
Katrien Schultz
Themis Athanassiadou
Leonard Hamers
Julie Blair
Floor Catshoek
Stephanie Elizondo Griest
Astrid van der Velde
Sonja Werkman
Has Cornelissen
Tanya Sheikh
Roderick en Tanja van Straten
Muriel Juillard
Simone van Dordrecht
Renate Bakker
Sanne Paardenkoper
Edina Husanovic
Diane Elizabeth Shaw
Marieke Hamelink
Marcel van der Endt
Tara Dakini
Sabien Jesse
Roel te Kolstee
Jen Mills
Claudia Baiguera
Wilma Verbeek
Heidi Vanheusden
Jolien Geerlings
Charlotte Wassell
Nazreen Hassan
Tobias Schütz
Agnes Millot
Nana Hilarius
Mat Jacob
Miriam Embla
Paula Gillespie-Rivenburg
Mareike Beiersdorf
Steven Pontolaeng
Jennifer Neal
Mandy Hamson
Esther Nederpelt
Sophie Enever
Petra Jansen
Pete Gostelow

June-July 2016: Ubumuntu Arts Festival, Kigali, Rwanda

In July 2016 myself and my colleague Tjarda Van Straten have been invited to choreograph a work each as part of the Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Rwanda. the meaning of Ubumuntu is Humanity in Kinyarwanda and during the 15-16-17th July 2016 artists from all over the world will be performing and collaborating at the festival. An opportunity for cultural and artistic exchange between numerous artists from different backgrounds. The Performances will take place at an outdoor theatre in Kigali, at the genocide memorial.

We are looking for funding to help us support this project. We will be working with professional Rwandan dancers who need to be paid a fair wage, we need to pay for travel expenses, studio hire, costuming,... and we need your help to help us contribute to the growing Rwandan arts scene. Please visit our Kickstarter page to find out how you can help us.

Tjarda and myself have chosen the working title: 'Movement For Humanity' working in the lines of the aims of the festival. Each of us will work separately with the Rwandan dancers so we explore two ways of working with them. At the same time, we support each other by observing each other's work in progress throughout this 3 week collaboration.

Rwanda For Calais - Movement For Humanity

As part of the Ubumunty Arts Festival, colleague and friend Tjarda Van Straten and I will be creating a work with working title Movement For Humanity. This work is a reaction to the global refugee crisis. In 1994, during the genocide against Tutsis, 1000s of Rwandans managed to escape the brutalities. 22 years on and Rwanda is a thriving place for arts, culture, economy, tourism,... Many Rwandan refugees went back to their homeland, including my own family. Many of them have worked hard to rebuild their country and despite its dark history, Rwanda is onwards and upwards.

Movement For Humanit is a work about displacement. In January 2016 I went to 'The Jungle' (a refugee camp on the UK-French border in Calais) to teach a dance workshop at the Good Chance theatre. What struck me the most was the resilience of the people there and the brutality of the people outside of this bubble. 1 month later most of the camp got demolished by the French police. Many innocent people got beaten, chased away from their homes, tear gassed, ... including many unaccompanied children that have since gone missing. I remember one little boy I danced with, I cannot remember his name but I remember his eagerness to dance and enjoy himself to the music that was playing. After the camp got demolished I saw a picture of this same little boy with the mention that he was missing. Over 100 other unaccompanied children have gone missing since the 29th February destructions have started...

After the 29th February, 12 Iranian refugees decided to sew their lips together and went on hunger strike. The strike lasted nearly one month. Most stories I have read or heard are linked to the fact that the refugees feel like they do not have a voice.

The voices, the music, the laughter, the sense of community, the dance, the arts, the stories that took place at the Calais camp evaporated with the destruction that took place. In this work we are aiming to give the Calais people a voice through the Rwandan dancers. Rwanda is a country that has suffered so much in the past and that can relate to the pain and suffering of the refugees not only in Calais but in Europe and all over the world. Our aim is to create a connection to remind ourselves we are all humans and we all share the same hopes and dreams for a safe life surrounded by the people we love.