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Fespad Is Coming of Age

By George Ihugo November 23, 2019 0 comments

Since its first edition in 1998, the Panafrican dance festival (Festival Pan-Africain de la Dance, Fespad) has evolved into an internationally recognized and respected event. This year, more than 40,000 participants are expected, amongst whom contemporary dancers from Burkina Faso, South Africa, Brazil, and Zimbabwe.

The biennial dance and music festival Fespad, which will be held this year from July 27 to August 2, is becoming a full-blown event.

Since its first edition in 1998, the Panafrican dance festival (Festival Pan-Africain de la Dance, Fespad) has evolved into an internationally recognized and respected event. This year, more than 40,000 participants are expected, amongst whom contemporary dancers from Burkina Faso, South Africa, Brazil, and Zimbabwe.

Internationally renowned choreographers from twenty five countries will be present at Fespad, which will explore ties between the African traditional dances and international contemporary ones. It will also be an occasion for the celebration of a double anniversary: 100 years of Kigali and 10 years of Fespad.

After a decade, Fespad has become a real festival, with obviously the core even of dance and music performances, but also with lots of fringe activities. A workshop will be held in the University Arts Centre, sheltering the national museum and the old royal palace of Nyanza.

Another workshop will take place in Gisenyi under the theme Rwanda Nziza (Beautiful Rwanda) where Rwandan artists will unveil new concepts of dance.

Back in Kigali, the “Ejo” Dance center is going to be launched, which will be the first Pan-African archive center dedicated to dance. Another novelty is the children’s festival with puppet dancers and children ballet, which aims to make children familiar with Rwandan traditional culture and dance so as to perpetuate it.

Anita Munyaneza, the communication and PR officer of Fespad, also points out that the 2008 festival will be much more international.

“We are bringing in dancers from around the world, who will perform in their local style, so there will be a great variety, with even participants from Japan and China,” she says.

Art and business

Ms. Munyaneza also explains that, although Fespad’s main objective is still to promote dance, there are also other aspects to it, such as tourism promotion.

“People attending the festival need to stay in hotels, and they will want to see more of the country, so the tourism sector will be benefiting from this,” she says.

The Fespad organizers also want to use the opportunity to raise the interest of the private sector, through two conferences on July 29 and 31.

“We want to see how art and business can work together,” the PR officer says. “How can the art sector get money from enterprises, but also how can business make money through art. These are two sides of a coin, we believe that the art and private sectors can work hand in hand and both benefit,” Anita Muyaneza explains.

The July 31 conference will focus on “Imprints and memory,” pointing out the role of traditions in African Society.

“People tend to forget their tradition,” Ms Munyaneza says. “It is important we don’t forget our roots, even if the traditional ways cannot simply be transposed to modern times. So we want to examine how our tradition can still be applied in modern life.”


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