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SPAN and West African Latin Dance Festival

From left; Buddy Agedah, CEO, Dance & Art Alive and organizer of the Nigeria Afro Latin Congress; Ita Hozaife, drama facilitator, Film Booth Camp (FBC), (Span Theater & Film Academy); Sarah Boulos, Founder, The Society For The Performing Arts In Nigeria (SPAN); Achalugo Ezekobe, drama facilitator, FBC; Ice Nweke, Director, I.C.E Production; and Deok Gimbiya, Coordinator, Span Theater & Film Academy, at The Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria 2019/2020 season lunch press conference, in Lagos.

By Chukwuma Ajakah

Dance, as art form, is therapeutic, educative, and fosters unity. That is perhaps the reason the Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN) has taken another bold step in her strides as she engages art education and performance to enhance a better society through collaboration with diverse cadres of artists poised to inspire one another to achieve a collective success.

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From 11 through 17 November 2019, SPAN will present the 12th Season of the West Africa Latin Dance Festival tagged “Your Success, Our Victory”.

In a press conference held in Lagos last Friday, the Founder/CEO, Sarah Boulos, unveiled the line of activities which include filmmakers’ workshops, film boot camp, dance performances, music, theatre and community outreaches.

According to Boulos, the West Africa Afro Latin Dance Congress will partner with Dance and Art Alive to present dance performances which will begin in Lagos and feature international music and dance facilitators who will teach about 400 students to hone their performing skills. She stated that the Lagos event will last for 4 days. While the workshops are billed to run from11 to 15, the main events are scheduled between 14 to 17 November.

Day 1 of the West Africa Afro Latin Festival with the riding theme: Promoting Dance, Tourism and Unity in Africa, will hold at the Lagoon Restaurant, Victoria Island, Lagos. The event will feature performances and competitions. Day 2 will feature “tales of success” from international and SPAN dance artistes. Day 3 is for the Salsa Congress Showcase which will involve performances and competitions. Day 4 will showcase another segment of “tales of success” from international and SPAN jazz music artistes.

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“Reflections”, revolves around Boulos’ success story. According to her, “We build our lives on new things. How do we shift the narrative to let people know that life is not all about them? I’m nothing without the input of others. I’m blessed because of the success of others. This year, our focus is: Forget yourself, think of others. I’ll be telling my story through music. Art is therapy, a tool for our society to heal.

Through our creative works, we can change the narrative and cause positive changes in the country. Let’s make people think more of others”. According to Boulos, SPAN have provided over 800 jobs and led to the emergence of over 30 dance and music studios in Nigeria. They have reached out to over 2.5 million persons with unique propositions that have enabled them to learn, share knowledge, and develop interest in performing arts.

The convener of the festival, Buddy Agedah remarked that the West Africa Afro Latin Festival Nigeria will feature professional Latin dancers from Europe and over 6 African countries. Buddy added that “Several workshops and master classes will hold all the days, including special evenings with spectacular performance to crown each day’s activity”. The convener explained further, “We are using the programme as a tool to preach to people in Africa that we are one. Such a message can help curb hatred and the kind of attacks that recently occurred in South Africa. For the first time, we are flying in instructors from countries like Spain to feature in this edition”.

The instructors lined up to handle the workshops include  Paul Lees, Reuel Rogers, Aranda  Sanchez, Vela Morale Maria, Hafiz Oyetero (Saka), Yinka Akanbi, Jude Idada, Ita Hozaife, Ajoke Silva, Hon. Kehinde Soaga, James Omokwe, Achalaugo Ezekeobi, Ukalina Opuwari and Nnamdi Nweke aka Ice.

Dallas based Paul Lee with a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies, is a music instructor, an iconic composer, pianist and keyboardist. Aranda Sanchez and Vela Morales Maria are Latin Salsa Champions. Choreographer, dancer and coach, Reuel Rogers majors in Hip-hop and Break Dancing. The listed Nollywood actors will facilitate the Boot Camp-Theatre and Film Academy. Ita will teach Screen Writing and Acting while Korede Oyerogba, will be presenting a show titled, “Blackout” at the event. According to Korede, “Blackout is a story on love, racism and hate. The story is written by Nneka Obiorah and directed by Wisdom Ojije”.

Ita Hozaife, one of the success stories of SPAN, spoke on her role, “I partner with SPAN because of what they stand for. They help people to find themselves. They give people a sense of value, identity and pride. Out there, people try to erode you of your sense of value. SPAN helped me to identify myself. That gave me self esteem”.

Another product of SPAN, Achalugo Ezekobe, a lawyer, film producer and writer stressed that mentoring is cardinal to success in every field, ‘Mentoring is a very good thing. A mentor prepared me for stage writing. It was not among my school courses. When you find somebody who is able to hold your hand, don’t forget as you go forward to hold somebody else’s hand”.

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Boulos described Salsa as a unique dance style which she started when it was relatively unknown in Nigeria “I started with something different, a movement that taught people a new dance. The people were already used to their traditional dances which were good. I did not take that away from them. I came to add value and see how they can profit from their performances through Salsa.” The sponsors of the 12th Season include Eko Hotel, 7 Up Bottling Co., Cool FM, La Pointe and SCOA Nigeria Plc.

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