DANCE QUEEN: Dance is not one of those easily embraced careers, and for Lilian Nabaggala, she had to brave so much stigmatisation to get where she is. The Batalo East dance crew member shares her story and dance story with Gabriel Buule.
Choosing dance as a career almost became a throne of thorns for Lilian Maxmillian Nabaggala, having faced resistance from family and friends who repeatedly called her a tomboy.
However, her resilience has paid off and now she wants to see more girls embracing dance as a career.
“Being a girl and a dancer was initially challenging,” recalls Nabaggala.
The 29-year-old has travelled to more than 12 countries and says what drove her was the negative energy she often got from those that doubted her. “They gave me strength to create more exciting stuff; I invest so much energy into my work,” Nabaggala says.
Nabaggala has mentored several girls through the monthly Batalo East Equation mentorship programme, she has also choreographed dances, including the Nambi production which comprises only female characters.
Defined by creativity
Nabaggala attributes her success to patience and hard work.
The brain behind Club Pilsner’s Refresh Your Beat choreography, Nabbagala has created works that include Nambi, that has been showcased in Rwanda at East African Night of Tolerance and Adey Festival. She also choreographed a piece on child labour that was showcased at the Bursa 23 children and Youth Festival in Turkey.
Nambi carries a message of African female warriors reminding girls of their importance, roles and contributions to society as leaders that can fight and protect communities.
Setting goals straight
Nabaggala’s hard work, skills, creativity and consistency have opened many doors of opportunities to perform at a bigger stage. Now she choreographs dance in several countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Germany and Holland.
She says even though her goal is to create more dances and see herself perform at the Julidans International Festival for contemporary dance, Netherlands, she looks forward to working with more girls and interesting them in taking on dance as a career.
Nabaggala says her style of choreography can help empower many girls to stand up for their rights, recalling one of her recent pieces called Ill-legitimate that denounces child labor.
“Since we cannot get our voices heard like politicians, we can take onto the stage to dance using socially feasible messages,” Nabaggala notes.
Who is Lilian Maxmillian Nabaggala?
Born in Rubaga Kampala in 1989, Lilian Maxmillian Nabaggala attended Mengo Primary School, Mpoma Girls (O-Level) and later St Mary’s Kitende. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Arts at Makerere University.
Aside from dance, Nabbagala is also an events host/organiser, wardrobe stylist and make-up artist. Her dance specialties are waacking, traditional African dance, Latin dances (Salsa, Samba, Bachata, Rhumba, Chacha, Jive), Afrohouse and contemporary dance.
As a solo and crew dancer, she has been involved in festivals, dance battles, showcase competitions, concerts, theatre productions, community outreaches, exchange programmes and dance auditions.