All of Lagos is out in the streets. A fight breaks out, and one person dies. Reality shifts on its axis, revealing a world where a bird-woman holds court, along with keepers of the kingdom of the dead and other mythical figures. In this world, death is nothing final, it is merely a thread that connects us to the ancestors. Re:Incarnation draws on Yoruba philosophy—the ethnic background of the Nigerian choreographer Qudus Onikeku—to revive body memory and celebrate Africa’s ability to reinvent itself in a collective rebirth.
Ten young dancers and two musicians perform the cycle of life with explosive energy. This young generation of Nigerian dancers, steeped in local Afrobeats as well as dancehall, hip-hop, and funky house, feed an exuberant exploration of life’s several passages. Re:Incarnation is epic, an ode to the cultural bounty of Nigeria, with each artist adding their own individual force. The piece is a passionate journey of initiation and catharsis.
Produced by The QDance Company
Executive Producer YK Projects (Paris)
Created and directed by Qudus Onikeku
Created with and performed by Wisdom Bethel + Addy Daniel + Patience Ebute + Esther Essien + Joshua Gabriel + Faith Okoh + Angela Okolo + Busayo Olowu + Adila Omotosho + Obiajulu Sunday Ozegbe
Live Music Victor Ademofe + Olatunde Obajeun
Lighting Design Mathew Yusuf
Costume Design Wack NG
Video Technician Isaac Lartey
Production Manager Temitayo Mobolaji Oke
Production and Touring Alli Hajarat – The QDance Company
Co-produced by Biennale de la danse (Lyon) + Les Spectacles vivants – Centre Pompidou (Paris) + Les Halles de Schaerbeek (Bruxelles) Théâtre Paul-Éluard (Bezons) + Escales danse en Val-d’Oise + Théâtre national de Bretagne (Rennes)
With the support of ONDA (Paris)
Presented by La Presse the support of Institut Français + Consulat Général de France à Québec
in association with Place des Arts
Premiered at Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris, on January 14, 2021
A North American première
Written by Elsa Pépin
Translated by Katia Grubisic
About the artist
Qudus Onikeku (Lagos)
Qudus Onikeku is a representative of a new generation of artists working internationally. The choreographer was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and in 2009 went on to train at the École nationale supérieure des arts du cirque in France, initially working at the crossroads of dance and acrobatics. Inspired by traditional Yoruba philosophy, he has also been influenced by hip-hop, capoeira, and contemporary dance.
Since 2004, his solos have been performed in Europe, the United States, Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean. My Exile is in My Head was presented at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in 2015. After starting his company in Paris to tremendous success that brought him to the Festival d’Avignon amongst other global stages.In 2014 he returned to Lagos with his partner Haji, and together they initiated an artistic development project, the QDance Center, now the People Centre, an incubator for art practices, talent development and community engagement, a unique structure with which they examined and experimented the possible intersections between arts and society. Onikeku is currently the first “Maker in Residence” at The Center for Arts, Migration and Entrepreneurship of the University of Florida. His research is in developing interactions with cutting edge technologies and interactive systems, to create new economic opportunity for creators of value, by building a bridge between new technology and the global African experience.
Re:Incarnation is the result of extensive work with young dancers recruited on social networks in Nigeria and trained in body awareness and body memory. The piece, which was featured at the 19th Biennale de la danse de Lyon as part of their Africa2020 season, is based on Yoruba philosophy, informed by Onikeku’s ethnic origins. Re:Incarnation celebrates the living memory of the body and Africa’s powers of reinvention in a collective rebirth where past, present, and future come together.
“Re:Incarnation is an impressively layered look at memory and spirituality.ˮ
Laura Cappelle, Dancing Times (United Kingdom), 2021-02