FROM REFUGEE CAMPS TO THE NATIONAL BALLET OF CHAD

Thursday 31 January 2013
Festival rehearsal © AAD
Festival rehearsal © AAD

In 2011, African Artists for Development (AAD) launched, in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the program Refugees on the Move in Chad. The goal: to make dance a tool of social and cultural mediation within the refugee camps of Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

For three months, thousands of refugees were able to take part in the dance workshops organized by the Chadian choreographer Taïgué Ahmed and his company Ndam Se Na in the UNHCR refugee camps of Moula and Yaroungou, located in the south of the country.

 

Over the course of these workshops, the dance troupe was able to single out some truly talented participants. Thanks to Refugees on the Move, 14 refugees were not only able to leave the camps for the first time but also able to participate in a professional gathering of contemporary dancers at the International Dance Festival of N’Djaména – Festival Souar Souar.

 

Seven men and seven women from the Moula and Yaroungou camps were chosen to perform a dance piece by Taïgué Ahmed at the festival, held from the third to the 13th of December 2012. Titled “Where Are We?”, this original piece draws its inspiration from the daily life of refugees and the floods that hit the Chadian refugee camps in September 2012.

 

The refugees practiced exhaustively in the week leading up to their three performances at the National Ballet of Chad. The show was the undisputed highlight of the festival, with more than 3,000 spectators cheering the refugee-dancers on with enthusiasm and admiration. Refugees on the Move has had an extremely positive impact on Chad. The simple act of dancing has allowed refugees to rediscover their identity after having endured many trying and tragic experiences. By helping them rebuild their self-confidence and giving them a new tool of expression, this project marks a new emotional beginning for the refugees, one characterized by creativity and openness towards others. (Check out the video here.)

 

Following this success, AAD will bring the program to nine other Sub-Saharan African countries by 2015. From March 15th to April 15th 2013, the Batalimo refugee camp in the Central African Republic will enjoy its first dance workshop. In April 2013, the Tanzanian and Burundi choreographers Aloyce Makonde and Ciza Muhirwa will be trained to carry forth this project in their respective countries.