National Troupe, Footprints take dance to the streets
The celebration is still 10 months away. But Lagosians are already feeling the heat. Last week, two performing groups – the National Troupe of Nigeria (NTN) and Footprints of David began spot performances at selected locations in the metropolis as part of the build up for the Lagos at 50 celebration.
Designed to cover all the five divisions that make-up the Centre of Excellence codenamed, IBILE (Ikeja, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos Central, and Epe), the theatrical offerings kicked off last Monday and Tuesday in Ikeja attracting deluge of traders, artisans, motorists and commuters and passers-by.
Lagos seat of power at Alausa was the first port of call on Monday. For 30 minutes, performers from both groups held members of the audience spellbound. The scene spontaneously became a spectacle to behold. Similar experience played out at Ikeja roundabout (under the bridge) where no sooner the beat of drum rented the air than the spot became crowded as traders and onlookers struggled to catch the glimpse of the show. The following day saw the artistes performing at Gani Fawehinmi square in Ojota, Maryland roundabout and Lagos Airport Hotel in Ikeja.
The initiative masterminded by the Chairman, Lagos at 50 Anniversary Committee, Prof. Wole Soyinka was “to enlighten the people that Lagos has commenced operations for its 50th anniversary,” said NTN Director of Dance, Mr. Arnold Udoka. According to the popular choreographer, “the cultural aspect of Lagos was being deployed, a mixture of different dances from the youths to celebrate Lagos. Also, those who were only born in Lagos, but from different states are said to be all Lagosians, portraying Lagos as a place for all.”
Udoka was elated that the cultural offerings found a rhythm with the members of the public as they performed along with the troupes. “The spirit of the celebration has caught up with everyone. We thank the Lagos state government for giving us this opportunity to go out and meet people in their work places. Everyone is willing and ready for Lagos at 50,” he noted.
Founder of Footprints of David, Seun Awobadan expressed satisfaction about his group’s delivery, saying “we have been able to sensitise the community about the Lagos at 50 through the rich culture of Lagos and Nigeria. Our special focus in Footprints is to do a performance for children and by children; so we are taking care of the children arm of the festival, as we are being given the mandate by Soyinka to make sure we try as much as possible to show the Lagos about the rich culture of the state and Nigeria.
The dances represented are majorly contemporary versions of some Lagos traditional dances and some eastern traditional dances. We try to do it in the modern way because of the current trend that infuses the normal dances, we call it Nigerian movements, free-styling so that every Lagosian recognises it, we liberalise the dance movements so that it will be appealing to people.”
Lagos State was created on May 27, 1967, thus, it will clock 50 next year. But the journey to the golden age anniversary began formally last May 27 when the Lagos State government unveiled the logo of the anniversary. The co-chairmen of the anniversary committee are Soyinka and Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi. Gbadamosi had said during the unveiling that the anniversary would promote unity among the residents of the State.
The competition for the logo was keenly contested, and Mr. Etim Dennis emerged as winner. Soyinka expressed fulfilment that despite the challenges facing Nigerians, there were still many creative people.
He was also happy that the winner of the contest was not a Lagosian, saying, “There are lots of creative materials in this country, it compensates for many of the agonies we have to endure at the hands of sometimes incompetent, sometimes indifferent, sometimes complacent leadership, but the fact that there is so much creativity in this nation gives us some solace and gives the outsiders who visit this nation some elements of hope and interest in Nigeria.”
At the unveiling ceremony, the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode had said, “The opportunity of the golden jubilee is one we must use not only to celebrate our past achievements but to showcase to the world our immense potentials for future growth and development”.