Using ballet for the environment

05:28 by Kaggwa Andrew

Earth song is the third single off musician Michael Jackson’s ninth album, History: Present Past and Future, Book 1. Besides it being the final song Michael rehearsed and performed before dropping dead a couple of hours later, Earth song is special because it’s one of those pop culture hits that talk to the world.
It looks at the degradation and bastardization of the earth as a fall out of various human activities.
But this was 1995, the world wasn’t that messed up though Michael was prophesying. Today however, the world is a danger to its self, all the amazing forests have been destroyed, our relationship with animals has changed plus our lifestyles are a danger to the environment.
Probably, the Uganda National Contemporary Ballet must have been thinking like Michael when they chose to reawaken his earth message when they staged their dance drama Bolero at the National theatre last week.
The drama that was majorly choreographed by Valerie Miquel merges stories of environment degradation, pollution, confusion and ironically seduction.
Not to make it so hard for the audience to digest, Miquel opted to have musical interludes by one Samuel Nalangira whose skills on the Adungu and Ennanga are incomparable, his performances were however not in line with the theme of the day, he mostly channeled his emotions towards relationships gone bad.
The dancers on the other side, had fun on stage, their eloquence and swift transitions within moves made the entire production a smooth one for the eyes. With the guidance of Miquel herself, we were taught about situations of dominance – where brilliant groups crumble because they failed to choose a leader among themselves.
The solos routines by the likes of Jonathan Mayambala, Peter Khalifa, Simbwa and Sarah delivered authoritative messages about planting trees, fighting pollution and controlling the mind among others. Simbwa especially started off by showing how Ugandans highly cherish the polythen (kaveera), in a twist of events, the Kaveera annoyed him, blocked his sewage system and soon his water was dirty.
Simbwa, with a backdrop of a rock pop song swings and locks with the air in anger before finally collapsing in abyss….. What a sensation performance?
Miquel stars in the last performance where she brings on her seductress gear. The electronic charged performance was based on Miquel whose moves force all the men and women in the club to join in. This piece doesn’t only remind us on a fact that we need to have fun but also channels Maurice Ravel’s one-movement orchestral piece titled Bolero, which was the inspiration of the project.


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