Dance Artist in the spotlight
Dance Artist in the spotlight

Qudus Onikeku and the wonders of his cultural program; setting international stages ablaze with his ethereal dance.

You will be held spellbound by the many feats of Qudus Onikeku in the dance and theatre space. The charm with which his body sashays like an air bender when he breaks the wind with his moves and fist thumps the air at intervals; like a man piercing through the ventricles of celestial instructions; cruising and shaking while interrogating the unseen like a man on a sojourn with adept inkling into the theatrics of his call on that path. Onikeku has inspired a lot of people with his eclectic style of performance. And had been a profound influence on the dance culture across the globe; staging the performance in the theatre across nations and pushing past the borders of racial divides. Onikeku comes on stage as a mystic and mostly starts his chants with the names of his ancestral influences. Qudus is a delight to watch on and off the stage and his cultural program is getting better daily like a fine wine. In this focus on a formidable persona, we delved into the life of Onikeku and give a glossary of his achievements and how far he is blessing generations with his special skills. 

Onikeku lived in France for a while before returning to Lagos to found Q-Dance Company and Dance Gathering Lagos. He has performed a number of local and international shows, including We Almost Forgot which has been showcased in Berlin and Lagos.

His work takes its influence from the Yoruba traditional culture combining it with several other influences such as the guiding philosophies of hip hop, capoeira, and contemporary dance, to weave a certain understanding of the human condition. Onikeku's my exile is in my head was named as the laureate of the solo category at the Danse L’Afrique Danse 2010 in Bamako.

After training as an acrobat and dancer, Qudus Onikeku is now one of the top choreographers of his generation. Born in Lagos in 1984, he met Heddy Maalem there in 2003 and joined his company in Toulouse. Admitted to France’s national centre for circus arts (CNAC) in Châlons-en-Champagne, he graduated in 2009 and set up his own company, YK Projects, the same year, in Paris. His first creations, My Exile is in my Head (2010), Still/Life (2012), and Qaddish (2013), won international recognition and were performed at prestigious festivals such as the Venice Biennale, the Avignon Festival, and Roma Europa. After a decade in France, he returned to Lagos in 2014, where he opened The QDance Center, a place for training and nurturing talent, which has become a pillar of the dance world in Nigeria. Between 2015 and 2018, he created four shows and opened a dance lab space for multi-disciplinary events. Through the years, he has developed a wide-ranging artistic project, consistently and respectfully underpinned by all aspects of Yoruba culture. He continues to make new work with his company, from solos to large group pieces, and frequently collaborates with other disciplines: visual artists, architects, musicians and writers. In 2017, he created a video installation, Right Here, Right Now, for the first-ever Nigerian pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In 2018, in Germany, he created Yuropa, which is currently touring. In June 2019, he began preparing a new solo, Spirit Child, at the MC93 cultural centre in the Paris region, while also working on a collective and multi-disciplinary piece, Re: Incarnation, for the Lyon Dance Biennale. Onikeku is also a frequent guest lecturer at Columbia College Chicago and at the University of California at Davis. He is currently an associate artist in residence at the Center for Arts, Migration, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida, until 2022.

SPIRIT CHILD premiered in Cologne in June 2019.

IYAMI premiered on 17 December 2018.

YUROPA premiered in Bremen in June 2018.

RAINMAKERS created for the 2018 TEDGlobal in Tanzania, and since performed severally in Nigeria.

A BRIEF MOMENT OF TRUTH created for the 2017 TEDLagos.

WE ALMOST FORGOT 2016 creation, premièred in Berlin, Lagos and Abuja, and Paris.

QADDISH premiered on 6 July 2013 with several tours around Europe.

Qudus works can be found on media pages but you would be stunned at the electronic effect his performances can have on you when you attend the live shows. The audience are convinced enough to always rise in ovation after an immersive performance.

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