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 © 2012 - 2019 by  Qudus Onikeku / The QDance Company all rights reserved    ---- Designed by Qudus Onikeku ----  

THE QUEST

​I was born and grew up in Surulere district of Lagos - Nigeria. Very quickly I had the urge to express something of myself, and it was at the age of 5, that i began to accumulate series of acrobatic prowess, through my love for acrobatics i discovered dance at 13. Graduated from the Ecole​ nationale Superieur des arts du cirque​​​​. ​France in 2009, with a special interest in Acro-Dance, since then i have managed to create a movement identity that fuses dance and acrobatics, while i make my Yoruba traditional philosophy my basis, and combining it with several other influences such as hip hop, capoeira, tai chi and contemporary dance vocabularies, to weave a certain understanding of dance, art, politics and everything in between.

For more than a decade, i have managed to retain a presence in the Nigerian choreographic scene, and became part of the new generation of creators springing from Africa. Relatively known in Europe, in the USA, Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean for my solo works, writings and public space happenings. I have also danced, collaborated and toured widely with renowned artistes all over the world.



In 2004 i began a solo career, and have since managed to maintain a healthy creative life.​ Through my artistic journey, my interest has been more and more drawn towards the aesthetics and artistry of African peoples in general. It is in my believe that the social-economic-political condition of a given time, usually informs the given culture of the time. In view of this I've been looking closely at the questions of 'contemporary Africa', its aesthetics and its identity in its widest sense; the differences, the discourse about it,  the power play around it, the instability of reality, the chauvinism, the colonialism, the hegemony, the migration, exile and the noisy confusion that they all produce together, in my daily reality and that of humanity. 

My own little effort has been to reinforce the experiences of a people that is far from being uniform, and absolutely impossible to be reduced to a succession of moments and events, skin colors or single stories. I’m particularly interested in how the new generation of 'African' and 'Black' dancers continues to make a rethink of the forms and depth of dance, in the face of such unstable reality, how they turned dance to a connected current of excitation, whose language is in perpetual mutation. It is in my interest to continue to investigate new dance vocabularies, which defies a specific dance technique, dance tradition or form, but to build a genre of dance performance that employs systems and methods that draws on newer philosophies of movement, and to draw from the performance tradition of the èfé - Gèlèdè masquerade.

In a sense, to make the statements, that Africa is not a place sitting inactive somewhere down south, but a space of creation that is not solely disorder, chance and madness, but emerges from a sort of violent burst, with its languages, its beauty and ugliness, and its ways of summing up the world. That, if we imagine Africa as a choreography, it will be understood as a field where the earth is unturned, which provides the bases for a constant reinvention of the body and the universe.

In my approach to art, one thing is clear, this one thing however, might be seen as connection of many things that have simultaneously come to rest within my restless mind, and my body has created a precept and a refuge for these complexities. My personal need for comprehension, for finding answers to the many questions that surfaces on my mind on a daily basis, together with my own personal artistic preoccupation, with a dire need to heal and to advance art and humanity, and to be a bridge between aesthetics that has either been wrongly understood or dismissed as low art, and in all of that i have also find a space for my spirituality, in search of unity with the cosmos, and hoping to recover a certain verticality, to recover the authentic self that is neither subjugated to norms, history, the past nor thrown aback in his right to the assured presence. 

 

This meant for me tapping into age long Yoruba philosophies, which already neatly outlined the part of the self, of alterity, of the commune and of the divine, in its imagination and the role of aesthetic beauty and of art. With enough skills, talent, experience and knowledge, that i have been able to gather and exercise through my practices, i hope to take from this diverse sources aesthetics and transpose them into contemporary, and urban context. 

 

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, I've constantly searched for ways to fuse poetic attitudes with an African satirical and fictitious modes of story telling, as in the griot tradition, combining both social history, collective memory or collective amnesia with personal autobiography, as a critical launching pad in the process of myth reading and communal rejuvenation. In most of my works - including group pieces - the dancer is always given the dramaturgic and choreographic liberty, to present himself as himself, but pointing to something else, there is restricted level of show off, but a responsibility of an interpreter and the humility of a messenger. Through self-exposure and auto derision, or self-fortification and self-proclamation, the dancer also weans his audience from any license of criticism they might have of both his art and the message thereon.

 

I have by no means felt at ease with the saying that "Dance is a language" or a 'form' of 'expression' and often outraged by audiences who want - by all means - to understand my performance, as one probably understands a piece of writing. Language can do less when dance is in view, and 'forms' denote something fixed. Body movement, or simply put, action has always been a superior mode of thought and of communication, therefore, the contextual meanings in my performances are neither eternal nor immutable, but mere signifiers in time and space. For me, a performance is simply an experience, not a cerebral one however, it is rather a brief shared moment of vitality, of healing, of sensorial purification, where one sometimes make allusions to antisocial behaviors, but above all it is to mediate between the here and then and to make balance. 

 

My audience shares communicative experience through many different sensory channels simultaneously; verbal, musical, choreographic and visual aesthetic dimensions, they all become part of the components of the total message, whereby there exist a personal alchemy between the 'performers' and every member of the audience, because in the Yoruba tradition, we believe that the eyes has got only two foods that feeds it, one is Iran, a magical spectacle or a choreographic display and the other is ewa, which is beauty. As beauty is relative, but magical spectacle and choreographic display takes more of my attention, because it creates its own beauty in its own terms. 

 

This shows the importance the Yoruba attaches to intense and visceral body movements, artistic, acrobatic, or magical display, as a means of securing attention and thereby influencing both the human and the divine. Spectacle (Iran) in this sense denotes a happening that seldom occurs in everyday life, and hence a relish for the eyes. Conversely, Iran spanning from the root word iranti (remembering), i.e. a memorable experience, lingering visually and aurally in the subconscious. In the visual art, an image or sculpture is called Aworan, a contraction of A-wo-ranti (a visual reminder) literally "what we look at to remember." Beyond and above the need to delight the senses alone by entertaining or educating it, a performance is also to establish a direct (active) body to (passive) body transmission, as well as a framework for regulating the social and cosmic orders.