DANCING AWAY: They say there are different ways of putting out a message, and for the RVC dancers, the issues affecting women will be addressed through dance. Together with some notable female personalities, the dancers have come up with I Am A Female production, writes Andrew Kaggwa.
Dance is not an art discipline that has been fully appreciated in Uganda. For instance, there was a time when artistes thought they could do without it, yet on other days, they believed anyone that walks could dance.
This gave birth to an era where video vixens were turned into dancers and later, it would degenerate into shaking the waist and the behind.
But of course, off the mainstream, the space for professional dancers had embraced acts such as Samuel Ibanda, Phillip Buyi to groups such as Tabu Flo alongside movements such as Breakdance Project Uganda.
Making of RVC
Most of these platforms were dominated by men that much as Tabu Flo then was unisex, it had only two noticeable female dancers; Rozmerie Atim and Viccy Birungi Namuyomba.
The two girls had met at Uganda’s premiere TV dance show Hot Steps that had aired on NTV in 2008 and later, they had gone on to work with Tabu-Flo, which still had some members that had too been on the show.
However, it was the need to express better, be daring and get out of their own skin that led to the creation of a duo, Rozmerie and Viccy, an all-girl crew that chose to do things a bit differently.
In one of the interviews, Rozmerie noted that it was the need to do harder things that pushed them.
“There are times the guys would be choreographing dance and when they brought on a very tough move, they would pity the girls believing it would be too taxing for us.”
She adds that at times she felt like she too wanted to do the hard things but did not get a chance to.
In 2014, a third member, Cathy Patra Mbabazi, joined the duo and today they go by the acronym RVC, which stands for their respective names.
According to Viccy, when they started, it was hard to compete in a field dominated by men but they worked on branding themselves, which meant that they were not going to be as complicated as many of the contemporary dance groups are, but still they were not going to be basic.
The X Factor
RVC, unlike their parent dance troupe Tabu-Flo, is a commercial outfit that has worked with local and international artistes such as Bebe Cool, Sheebah, Kent and Flosso, Navio, Maurice Kirya, Konshens, D’banj, Patoranking, Vanessa Mdee and Mr Vegas.
Yet, beyond collaborating with these artistes in music videos and on stage, the group members have taken on more roles in the field of dance, such as teaching, choreography and production.
For instance, during her successful concert last year, Viccy and Cathy were co-directors of Sheebah’s Mwooyo Concert and that is on top of other projects such as Club Music Video Awards in 2017, the Uganda Entertainment Awards and Irene Ntale’s Unchained.
The trio has carried out workshops in Uganda, Europe and Canada, teaching traditional and contemporary African dances and fusing them with urban dance.
Their belief is that the creativity dance can be used to contribute to social change and empower people.
Introducing I Am A Female
The trio have now embarked on their latest project I Am a Female, a production aimed at addressing issues affecting women today.
Set to premiere on Tuesday at the National Theatre, Namuyomba says the show will serve as a celebration of women who have triumphed against all odds and inspired those around them while at the same time sensitising the audience about issues.
“We set out to write a production that talked about sexual harassment, access to education and inequality in the workplaces, among other things,” Namuyomba says, adding that lucky for them, all the issues they pointed out were not different from those UN intends to address this year.
To break from the normal, the trio will not be facing the stage alone, but with a good number of powerful women from different disciplines of life, for instance, some are into sports, while others are fashionistas and artistes.
“Some of these have never danced before but we have been working with them and they will indeed surprise you,” said Cathy.
The cast is made up of comedienne Anne Kansiime, fashionista Judith Heard, basketball star Flavia Oketcho, singer Rachel K, radio personalities Malaika Nnyanzi and Deedan Muyira, designer Nunu Umuringa alongside Sheila Gashumba, Mona Faces, and Stella Nantumbwe.
Viccy says much as these people are known for other things to the public, all they will be doing on Tuesday will be dance.
“Kansiime is a funny girl, but on that day she will not use her mouth, we are going to channel her comedy through dance.”
Dance in Uganda faced a number of challenges in 2018, these were mostly in form of funding and attracting an audience that understands the art, however, Viccy says this production will be accessible for the audience.
“We are commercial dancers and our dances are understandable, they are not abstract,” she says.
And of course, unlike many artistic products that usually disappear from the public domain after their debut screening, the trio promises to have I Am a Female more than once, especially if they get partners.