The QDance Center A dance center, based in the Nigerian capital of Lagos, was founded in 2014 by Qudus Onikeku, a Nigerian graduate of a French circus school who went on to work as a choreographer and dancer in Europe, and Alli Hajarat, a Human Resources expert with experience in HR departments at multinational corporations, who studied human resource management in France.
Located on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, Nigeria has a population of approximately 213 million (2021, according to World Bank estimates). Approximately 70% of the population is under the age of 30, and according to a 2021 UN survey, about 43% are under the age of 15. Although the country’s overall unemployment rate is estimated at 9.8%, the unemployment rate for young people aged 15 to 24 is very high at about 19.6% (both 2021, according to World Bank estimates).
Against this backdrop, the Nigerian film industry—dubbed Nollywood, after Hollywood in the United States and Bollywood in India—continues to contribute in the area of creating new employment as a growing, creative industry. Influenced by this success of the film industry, the QDance Center was established as a place for pursuing art, as well as an enterprise with a social focus that fosters interest in the arts through artistic creativity and innovative imagination, and in the process nurturing a new generation of human resources capable of addressing problems and implement solutions.
The QDance Center’s organizational approach is fourfold: Artistic, Community, Talent, and Services. Their most cherished philosophy is artistry, and the Center’s resident dance company, the QDance Company, addresses a variety of themes, including a historical accounting of colonialism and its associated physical trauma, immigrant issues and diversity, and it presents works containing forms of expression that are at times political and radical in nature with approaches that are only possible through dance. The company’s works have been performed not only in Nigeria, but also at European festivals such as the Avignon Festival and the Lyon Dance Biennale, as well as in South America and Asia, and in 2017 they performed at the Nigerian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, where Nigeria participated for the first time.
At the same time, the Center also emphasizes grassroots activities that contribute to local communities, and until now more than 5,000 young people have participated in their activities in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria. In addition, some young people become interns or part-time or full-time staff members as a result of attending the Center’s workshops, thus contributing to the creation of employment opportunities, especially for young people. The QDance Center believes that local and global communities are seamlessly connected and continues to actively share a variety of their initiatives conducted in Nigeria’s localities with overseas partners.
The QDance Center also strives to provide equal opportunities for people with disabilities and female artists to participate in the Center’s main activities. Having a particular emphasis on developing the talent and creativity of young artists who will lead the next generation, the Center runs a mentorship program called EMERGENCE for young dancers and choreographers based in Nigeria. Through this and other programs, the Center is working to mentor more than 100 young artists, including people with disabilities, by functioning as a place where they can learn together.
Another feature of the QDance Center is its dedication to maintaining an environment in which all people can participate on an equal footing. Among these efforts is the Center’s annual “danceGATHERING” event launched in 2017, which serves as a place where talents from various backgrounds can gather in an anti-disciplinary atmosphere to undertake experimental works. In 2019, 7,433 people participated in this event, including artists from Chile, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay, and other countries.
8 Ajasa Str.
Onikan, Lagos. Nigeria.