OUT OF THIS WORLD / 2023
OUT OF THIS WORLD is an interdisciplinary time-based performance /installation, which interrogates a novel form of processing oral wisdom, using the Yoruba Ifa divination system as both scientific and artistic method for time bending, place making and shape shifting, by creating an automated, immersive, sonic and performance space that gathers creative artists-diviners, to collectively contemplate the present with the audience in real time.
During 8 days, at Friche la Belle de Mai, different spaces were be occupied (dance studios, performance halls and the rooftop). The morning sessions was for the Dance Camp, a convention that gathers 20 master dance teachers, offering over 80 hours of dance classes of the various afro and afrodiasporian dance styles. The afternoon periods was for afropolis co-Lab; a maker space among the various participants that collaborated to experiment and workshop new ideas that was presented during the final weekend to professional and amateur audiences alike, with all sorts of public presentations; performance, showcase, dance battle + a closing DJ dance party.
For the fifth edition of danceGATHERING, we returned to Broad Street, Lagos with a national edition only for Nigerians due to health conditions, then virtually in the coming months. The mothership made another landing on BROAD STREET Lagos, on the 15th August 2021, between 3pm and 10pm. We invited the audience to come out en masse and participate in yet another opportunity to congregate, celebrate and contemplate the times we live in, with 35 creatives coming from Lagos, Enugu, Asaba, Benin, Jos, Kaduna and Abuja.
Our thematic keynote for AFROPOLIS 2021 demands us to look Beyond Afrofuturism as a paltry evidence of coolness, or the new normal for a pseudo liberal wokeness, but to connect people with broadly diverse experiences and skills. If we are to meet these challenges, we believe in the integration of both ethical and innovative approaches to design, to public policy, to social justice, to technology, and to the intercommunal way that international art manifestations are imagineered. AFROPOLIS 2021 is proposing a technocultural approach to future making, through collaboration between artists and emerging technologies, engaging technology not as a solution but as a tool for understanding and imagining a balanced future.
EDUNJOBI / 2021
EDÚNJOBÍ is a performance film that looks into the cultural narrative that the Yoruba thoughts accord to twin birth; Ibeji. Ibeji within the arts space has mostly been expressed through the visual arts and western museums, which therefore focuses a lot of attention on ere ibeji, the calved objects, placing static objects as the signifier of a phenomenon that is richly complex and multiform, invariably reduces the narrative to what suites the arts world and it’s addiction to animist practice of collecting dead objects. This full length performance film in 9 parts, makes an attempt to place performance and orality as an entry point into what constitutes the excellence and ingenuity of the Yoruba thoughts, upon what appears to be a universal occurrence amongst all humans, twin birth.
Re/INCARNATION / 2021
Re:INCARNATION is an interdisciplinary art creation, that showcases the depth of Yoruba philosophy, mixed with the current Nigerian youth culture. It features the work of Nigerian dancers marked by the rhythm and groove of LAGOS. Paying tribute to this richness, the choreography is written with a highly musical structure, combined with an intricate and carefully designed visual aesthetics, all layered in three parts. Birth | Death | Rebirth.
DIVINATION / 2020
Divination" is an experimental performance film that draws its inspiration from Ifa divination; the Yoruba divination system with a rich ancient dataset of knowledge, language, art and ritual manifestations.
SPIRIT CHILD / 2019
Spirit Child is inspired by Azaro, the main character in Ben Okri’s novel, The Famished Road. Azaro is a spirit child, a restless, cyclical child; a child that keeps being born, keeps dying and keeps coming back. It’s a child that doesn’t like reality, because he perceives of reality and existence as very difficult, full of suffering and full of pain, and that human beings don’t have very much of a talent for making life beautiful. His refusal to renounce his connection to the other world makes him perpetually haunted by the search for essence. “Why am I here, why do I stay?"
danceGATHERING 2020 (virtual)
The 2020 edition of danceGATHERING explored the concept of virtuality within the African worldview, more than a hundred artists and visionaries from over 50 cities contributed to the outcome, which led to the creation of our digital platform, AFROPOLIS.ORG. On the 18th and 19th of April, 2020 the virtual danceGATHERING was live streamed to a global audience of over 10,000 people. The event organized by the QDanceCenter – Lagos, had in participation over 100 artists representing over 30 cities globally. DanceGATHERING is an annual gathering for creatives coming from diverse backgrounds, a performance lab and anti-disciplinary convention, which takes place in Lagos for 2 weeks. The 4th edition of the annual gathering slated to take place from the 6th to the 19th of April, went virtual due to the COVID-19 crisis around the world and the resulting travel restrictions. The 2020 theme was “This is the End: The Future is Black”
The theme for the 3rd danceGATHERING Lagos was AFROSPACETIME; a potpourri of dance artistes, choreographers, visual artists, thinkers, scholars, scientists, DJs, Ifa Priests, capoeirist, film makers, multidisciplinary artists, community organizers, theater director, curators, designers, photographers, performance artistes, writers, singers, emcees, drummers, musicians, producers, philosophers and other inclassable mutants. 83 in total, all coming from 29 cities in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Benin republic, UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Poland, Brazil, Uruguay, Jamaica, Dominica, Haiti and USA.
IYAMI / 2018
ÌYÀMI is a lyrical piece for 8 female dancers, made for the students repertory company of Columbia College Chicago. A new work exploring femininity as a life force connected to the Yoruba cultural fiction of ìyàmi àjẹ́. Furies of vengeance and fairness. The costumes design concepualised by me and designed by Jeff Hancock, follows an original imagination of the feminine pantheon of goddesses and avatars.
YUROPA / 2018
Yuropa follows the odyssey of three young travellers who left the shores of their homes, heading to an unknown destination over the sea. In this piece for three dancers and one musician, we focus on the difficulties and troubles linked specifically to traveling Africans, specifically those who take to the roads, as a last chance to self-preservation. YUROPA hopes to say something of a world in humanitarian crises. With the believe that the problem of migration, is the problem of the 21st century.
danceGATHERING spans from the simple idea of initiating a space for anti-disciplinary practice on the African continent. What happens when we gather creative innovators, thinkers and practical problem solvers to be part of something special, to share the same space and time with creative performers, who are radically shifting the boundaries of knowledge in the field of arts? (Choreographers, Musicians, Actors, Poets, DJs, Visual Artistes, Video artistes, Martial Artistes, Designers, Architects, Writers, Historians, Philosophers and everything in between.) All of these different disciplines coming together to work on ideas that don't necessarily fit into one discipline.
RAINMAKERS / 2017
A lyrical and rhythmic piece painting a fictional band of rebels and nomads, not all from the same creed or nation, but who collectively build one unique tribe of like-minded individuals who want to be catalysts for change – As drought encompasses their lands and communities, the tribe seeks to bring back the water with their bodies and souls. They shake things up with their music, songs and dances until the rain pours.
INFINITE NOWNESS / 2017
Given the long shadow of colonial domination, especially in the field of knowledge production, 'Infinite Nowness' is an investigation into alternative knowledge production and practice, using performative engagement and instant composition, as a mean of creating an experience, both the performer and for the audience, summoning and activating all our beings; the body pushed to its limit, the mind stretched from and beyond understanding, and the soul drawn to manifest itself in flesh, in forms, in sounds, in emotions and sensations. As we strive to capture and render visible the ephemeral nature of "time", in the production of unnamed and unnamable forms, that objective knowledge and knowing fails to capture completely.
RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW / 2017
I was selected along with two other amazing artistes (Victor Ehikhamenor & Peju Alatise) to perform in the Nigerian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In response to the curatorial theme How About Now? of the Nigerian pavilion, within the larger Viva Arte Viva theme of the 2017 Venice biennial, I have dug into my own artistic preoccupations, which has now spanned an intense period of 20 years of working internationally. Looking back, I realise that my artistic preoccupations are caught within the cycle of time, which remains the central theme of my work.
WE ALMOST FORGOT / 2016
We Almost Forgot imagines the past as an entity, that has returned to tell the present of its own horrors, of what it must hear in order to make proper sense of itself, rather than offering a reconciliation or a realistic account, it has simply come on a cathartic mission, delivering our headlines in unforgettable personal stories. Beyond history and memory, what else has the past got to offer the present?
IWA LEWA / 2015
This piece for four disabled and six non-disabled dancers, speaks of beauty in a non-conventional manner; what really is beautiful and what is not? What are the parameters for judging the beautiful from the ugly? Is there any such thing as a perfect body or a perfect human or a perfect dancer? How does beauty manifest through difference in abilities?
AFRICAMAN ORIGINAL / 2015
Between dance, performance art, stand-up, singing, conference and a dance class for the audience, this uplifting spectacle portrays a very charismatic dancer, very at ease on the stage. In Africaman Original, Qudus Onikeku takes us on a journey into the universe of African and Afro Diaspora art world, through the sound of Fela Kuti, now imagined as a dancer.
QADDISH is the last part of a trilogy "Of Solitude, Tragedy and Memory" which began with My Exile is in my Head and continued with STILL/life. I've been on this quest of recovering the authentic self that is not limited by events of the past. To attain the _I AM_ consciousness of being, which is spiritual, unbounded and undying. With QADDISH, I embark on a journey of memory transmission with my 80 years old father, to explore the dualities of
memory/amnesia, and a means of both safeguarding my father's memory, as well as reconstructing a time before form was given to our world
FLASH / 2013
During the winter quarter 2013, i was invited to UC Davis to be their Granada Artist-in-Residence, where i was invited to create a new work for the students after i made a university wide search for talents, there i created FLASH, a piece for 10 performers, a poetic and multidisciplinary attempt to present painful memories. It was presented by the Department of Theatre and Dance, it premiered on Thursday, March 7 and ran through March 17 in the Main Theatre, Wright Hall at UC Davis.
STILL/LIFE - 2011
In this solo, second part of the trilogy, Qudus Onikeku, brutally poses on stage, these
"What makes men transform suddenly into monsters?".
He asks, in search of a revealing sincerity more than of an impossible answer.
MY EXILE IS IN MY HEAD / 2010
A piece inspired by Wole Soyinka's prison notes THE MAN DIED. "Exile is poignant because it is bracketed by loss, it is not so much about movement, relocation or departure as it is about loss" with this autobiographical work, I seek to return, in a manner of speaking, by reconstituting the past, participating in the present, as well as envisioning a new world. it is the first part of a Trilogy. The piece has toured in 5 cities in Brazil, in ten countries in Africa, in 8 cities in France, 3 cities in Netherlands and 7 cities in the UK and the laureate of the Danse L'Afrique Danse festival 2010.
DO WE NEED COLACOLA TO DANCE? / 2006
I began this 'free' space project in 2007, It was aimed at taking art outside its proper boundaries, with an investigation into other art making processes, through multiple
improvisations, how DANCE, MUSIC, URBAN SCENOGRAPHY, PHOTOGRAPHY AND
VIDEO ART, could organically come together almost as a coincidence to coexist in a particular space in time.