Nigerian Choreographer/Dancer Qudus Onikeku to Make U.S. Debut With SPIRIT CHILD

By: Feb. 04, 2020
Nigerian Choreographer/Dancer Qudus Onikeku to Make U.S. Debut With SPIRIT CHILD

Nigerian choreographer/dancer Qudus Onikeku makes his U.S. debut, accompanied by Uruguayan artist Fernando Velazquez and musicians, with his work Spirit Child March 13 and 14, presented by the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1306 S. Michigan Avenue.

Spirit Child is inspired by the main character in Nigerian author Ben Okri's Booker Prize-winning novel The Famished Road. Azaro, the restless spirit child, is caught between life and death, between Earth-bound reality and an idyllic spirit world. Onikeku, with Velazquez and the musicians, has created an atmosphere of transition between the enchanted world of dreams and spirits and the world of the living. Spirit Child offers a meditative journey into dreamscapes, creating a poetry that brings a new kind of truth-or an old truth that no longer captures our attention.

These performances are the debut of Onikeku's choreography on a major U.S. stage, though he has performed all over the world. He spent the fall 2018 semester at the Dance Center as practitioner-in-residence, working with students and setting work on those enrolled in the Repertory Performance Workshop.

Residency activities

There will be post-performance conversations with Onikeku after both performances. Additional residency activities with community partners and Columbia College Chicago students take place throughout the week leading up to the performance weekend.

Qudus Onikeku

A love for acrobatics at a young age led Qudus Onikeku to create a movement identity that fuses dance and acrobatics, while basing his choreography in Yoruba traditional philosophy combined with hip hop, capoeira, tai chi, and contemporary dance vocabularies to weave an understanding of dance, art, politics, and everything in between. In 2014, Onikeku founded the QDance Center, which blends artistry and community on both the grassroots and global levels, impacting nearly 50 countries worldwide. Its centerpiece event, danceGathering, is a two-week, collaborative, "anti-disciplinary" festival that gathers dancers, writers, musicians, architects, and scholars in Lagos.

Onikeku's artistic journey as a solo artist has intensified his interest in the aesthetics and artistry of African peoples in general. He writes, "I am particularly animated by body memory rather than history, by the will to reach out and touch the audience above the will to express something of the self, and, in so doing, I've constantly searched for ways to fuse poetic attitudes with African satirical and fictitious modes of storytelling, as in the griot tradition, combining social history, collective memory or collective amnesia with personal autobiography, as a critical launching pad in the process of myth reading and communal rejuvenation."

Qudus Onikeku performs his work Spirit Child Friday and Saturday, March 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $30, $24 for seniors and $10 for students, available at or by calling 312-369-8330. All programming is subject to change.


Photos: First Look at FOOTHOLDS VOL. 4 at the Impostors Theatre Company Photo
Photos: First Look at FOOTHOLDS VOL. 4 at the Impostors Theatre Company

The Impostors Theatre Company (ITC) concludes their fourth season with Footholds Vol. 4, an annual anthology play written by the Chicagoland community and directed by ITC Executive Director Rachel Borgo along with Courtney Marie, Caitlin McManus, and ITC Ensemble Member Anna Roemer. Footholds Vol. 4 runs through 17, 2023 at The Den Theatre. Check out photos here!

Review: DONT QUIT YOUR DAYDREAM at The Second City Photo
Review: DON'T QUIT YOUR DAYDREAM at The Second City

The Second City’s 11th Mainstage revue DON’T QUIT YOUR DAYDREAM has a slightly existential air to it as the name suggests. In one of the revue’s most effective sketches, ensemble member Evan Mills breaks into song as he muses about the questions that keep him up at night—they range from the mundane “Why does it take six hours to be assisted at a place called urgent care?” to the more complex “Why are people afraid of men in dresses but not of men with guns?” In keeping with the tradition of Mainstage revues past, the political leanings are definitely liberal (and that resonates just fine with me), and questions like the ones that Mills poses in that sketch are on the clever-funny side.

Lyric Opera Of Chicago Announces Dance Auditions For CHAMPION Photo
Lyric Opera Of Chicago Announces Dance Auditions For CHAMPION

Lyric Opera of Chicago will hold auditions for solo dancers with exceptional ability in character work, African, modern, jazz, ballet, and social genres for the six-time Grammy Award-winning composer Terence Blanchard's Champion directed by James Robinson and choreographed by Camille A. Brown. Christopher Jackson will be the associate choreographer. August Tye is the ballet mistress.

Blues Guitarist Hector Anchonodo Returns to Raue Center in September Photo
Blues Guitarist Hector Anchonodo Returns to Raue Center in September

Raue Center has announced the return of award-winning blues artist and local favorite Hector Anchondo on Saturday, September 23 at 7 pm.

More Hot Stories For You


#repshow# in[i]# The White City: An Audible Exhibition on H.H. Holmes (Recorded))
A Theater in the Dark (3/30-9/30)
#repshow# in[i]# GreenRoom Improv
Raue Center For The Arts (9/16-9/16)
#repshow# in[i]# Rhythm World 33
The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center (7/16-7/16)
#repshow# in[i]# A Little Night Music: The Music of Stephen Sondheim
Raue Center For The Arts (7/22-7/22)
#repshow# in[i]# Beetlejuice
Auditorium Theatre (11/07-11/19)
#repshow# in[i]# Cymbeline - Lincoln Park
Midsommer Flight (8/04-8/06)
#repshow# in[i]# Battle of the Bands Semi-Finals
Raue Center For The Arts (8/17-8/18)
#repshow# in[i]# Company
Cadillac Palace Theatre (10/31-11/12)
#repshow# in[i]# The Women Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe
Raven Theater - Schwartz Stage (6/22-7/02)
#repshow# in[i]# Call Me Elizabeth
Venus Cabaret Theater (6/16-6/18)

Recommended For You