The choreographer, Fabrice Bwabulamutima, who is responsible for the dance workshops at the Mole refugee camp, takes the time to answer a few questions.
Can you present yourself?
My name is Fabrice don de dieu Bwabulamutima and I am a Congolese artist, comedian, dancer and choreographer, living in Kinshasa. I created the company Kongo Drama and am an Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Arts. In addition to this, I am the coordinator of AAD’s program Refugees on the Move at the Mole camp.
How did the 1st phase of the program go?
The 1st phase took place from February till May 2015. We hold many memories of this phase. After having been to the camp, we understood that it was a particularly difficult place to live…. But what was interesting was that the refugees were impatient for us to arrive.
More than 600 people had signed up for the dance workshops and 9 000 inhabitants of the camp had appreciated the final show. Dance really gave the participants the means to reconstruct themselves psychologically and made them aware of their talent.
Did you note any other positive impacts?
– First of all, regarding hygiene.
The UNHCR warned us about illnesses present in the camp. We therefore had to monitor the hygiene of the children (nails, hair…). The message was the following: to dance well, good health is essential, and one of the first precautions to be taken is to stay clean. These workshops were therefore an opportunity to emphasize important hygiene measures. We gradually witnessed a real improvement in this respect.
– The second positive impact concerns human relations
The confinement and boredom in the camp manifested themselves through widespread fear. In the beginning, the participants were very defensive, or even aggressive. The comments – with the aim of dancing better – were not welcome. Gradually, we started seeing changes; the participants started taking initiatives: connecting cables, managing the rooms, helping each other out… We realized that a form of humanity was resurfacing amongst the participants, by giving importance to the group.
Precisely, what did this experience bring you?
I had read books and studied the social role of dance but it is only at the camp that I truly witnessed and experienced it. Dance goes beyond being solely for the purposes of amusement and physical exercise. It is a whole philosophy, a school, and a treatment of one’s inner self. I would like to demonstrate this and deepen our understanding of the therapeutic effects of dance throughout the second phase.
What is the program of the second phase?
We will continue the work we started during the 1st phase. We also need to come back with a new vision, which will add to the work we’ve already one.
First of all, we will spot people that will be able to continue this work in the camp and outside, by training new instructors.
I thereafter want to go deeper in the work on giving hope and autonomy: the participants are the creators and the organisers of the performance where they present work. It is by being aware of the value of artistic work that the participants are given hope for the future. We are going to allow them to believe in a better future, one that is better than the situation in which we are in today.
Furthermore, by creating a quality show, the participants will have a way to express themselves.
There is a real need to speak up and AAD gives them the means to express themselves and therefore to exist.