Art Review

Professional dance development in Addis Ababa

A two day dance workshop that addressed a sense of isolation and added professionalism to dancers

Zela Gayel

 At any other time, dancers in Addis Ababa would have been delighted to receive such a profound and rare opportunity to express themselves and to ultimately satisfy their hunger for the exploration of unfamiliar dance styles, which took place at Abiot School here in Addis Ababa.
The complimentary dance workshops were led by Ras Mikey Courtney, International Dancer and Choreographer, who previously lived in Ethiopia for several years where he set up the 1st international dance studio.
When he was living in Ethiopia Ras Mikey had produced and choreographed many performance projects in various community setups. On his recent return to the U.S. he reconnected with his company F.I.V.E. Productions (For I’m a Versatile Entertainer) where he is the Co-founder and Education Director of teaching Ethio-Modern  dance at the University of Arts in Philadelphia.
“I think the turnout was great and the number of days was appropriate. Dancers in attendance illustrated their passion for dance and their desire to want to know more about this vast genre. This workshop would not have happened without my top student Minte,”  Ras Mikey told this magazine.
He was referring to Mintesinot Getachew, who was instrumental in gathering the community of dancers. He is a performer of urban dance styles who choreographed music videos for artists such Haile Roots, “Cheggae” song.  Mintesinot brought  dancers from local theatre groups, martial arts students and the winners of Ethiopian idol dance group, “HaHu”, who all benefitted from the vitality of Ras Mikey’s dance workshop.  “This kind of workshop is so important for them to expand their perspective. In the end, they felt really inspired and really happy”, Mintesinot told this magazine.
The workshop, which was held for two days with an exciting and vigorous program per day, fulfilled all the expectations of the wonderful turnout of over twenty people each day. It addressed the sense of isolation which affects all independent dance artists. Sharing the experience in popular urban dance fusion from USA, culminating in choreography and the play of Capoiera, a Brazilian martial art dance, was indeed an exciting thing to do.
In the absence of professional dance development in cities like Addis Ababa, creating an open space for the awareness of professionalism is a new pathway for many of the dancers.
Ras Mikey said he was now on his way to the University of Limerick in Ireland to continue his studies for his Master, Majoring in Ethno-choreology and to further research how to incorporate Ethio-Modern dance into the Global Dance Community. He is scheduled to present a lecture on this topic at the Association of Dance of the African Diaspora (ADAD), in London in early November 2012.
“I personally want to expand the knowledge capacity of the Ethiopian dance community, to give a better understanding of western contemporary dance ideas. I hope to be able to show the community more tools to be creative dance artists as well as learn more about the climate of traditional and popular dances” RAs Mikey said.
Participants left the workshops satisfied at this very somber time keeping in mind that Ras Mikey will return in December 2012 to continue the dance workshop series.

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