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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”

DG2020 is NOT Cancelled.

In the interest of public health and in compliance with local health advisories, community by community, the impact of COVID-19 is variable and rapidly changing the world we used to know. Normal life is being suspended in Asia, Europe and America, more and more arts organizations are cancelling festivals or postponing performances and public gatherings. Schools are closing up and transitioning to e-learning. Mecca is empty, and Pope Francis delivered his Sunday sermon through a video link. This feels like the end.

The Coronavirus is about to impact not only the global economy drastically, but equally challenge the reality of what is to define new societies. The unexpected loss of event-dependent revenue, income for artists, and declines in charitable contributions is beginning to come into focus and will grow over time. Who knows for how long? Countries may go bankrupt, factories are shutting down production, airline companies cancel thousands of flights daily, both cultural and business tourism have been greatly dented.

It is therefore natural, that a number of concerned friends have asked if we were going to cancel DanceGATHERING 2020, or at least think of a ‘plan B’, because airports are closing and, in a month, it may be worse. They are right, but merely acquiring a travel visa had been a well-known nightmare to us, hence the airports have always been closed to us, and the world didn’t really end. Thus, none of these will stop danceGATHERING from happening, yes it may stop some international guests from attending, which we are well aware of, but we shall go ahead all the same, because having plan B, C and D and E, is daily living for us in Africa.

Today, many hear our theme, “THIS IS THE END: THE FUTURE IS BLACK”, and they ask if we saw it coming? Our theme indicates an awareness, that the Earth and its earthlings are experiencing physical and spiritual transformation, and DG2020 identifies as one of such events, which unflinchingly situate African imaginations and resilience as a counterpoint, an alternative way to think and imagine ourselves into a new ‘new’. But our curiosity for endings and end times dissociate itself from any apocalyptic predictions, because end time we know, is always a violent event, whatever its latest expression is, it is the substitution of one world order by another.

The time of uncertainty like we have now, to us, is a blessing in disguise, for it establish a kind of order that is experienced as disorder and a terrifying future in the consciousness of the dominant power. The future has always been BLACK, only that the world failed to see it. There is a degree of awareness all of a sudden it seems, but it remains on the surface, because of our habits, the comfort provided by what is familiar, as well as the various rents. Querying one's intellectual capital requires efforts in order to properly challenge it; it is easier to keep repeating the same things than believe that it is over, now we await an awakening in the face of the evolution of our civilization, which will oblige each of us to abandon his/her/their/our certainties and recompose new frameworks.

In conclusion. We do not have any plan nor desire to cancel DG2020, on the contrary, such gathering is what is needed right now. It’s time to query everything afresh, as many African artistes, thinkers, dreamers, diviners and healers have been clamouring since the 60s. But these queries have struggled to irrigate the colonial logic, the arts world nor the global market, it failed to open our heart to the cries against climate change, the fight for equity and inclusion, the class struggle, the idea that black live matters, the struggles for love by the LGBTQ, these new queries must reform the academia and the social body in a meaningful way, to the extent of triggering actual change, thus the distances perceptible between the different disciplines, the different genders, ages, nationalities and the diverse approaches we will bring together at danceGATHERING Lagos in April 2020, shall be understood as an invitation to collective future making. Everyone is indeed invited.

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