People primarily consider dance a form of art or entertainment, but this Nigerian dance company is using dance to make a difference and better its community, as well as provide the determination and focus for the younger population. QDanceCenter is a dance studio, touring dance group and community development center all in one. It has received international recognition for touring and performing shows that focus on a variety of current socio-cultural, personal and political topics.
History and Mission of QDance
Qudus Onikeku, an internationally acclaimed choreographer and dancer, founded QDance in 2014. QDance started as a way to promote dance and tradition in the Lagos community. Onikeku also realized the need for employment and personal development opportunities and decided that fighting unemployment would be a major goal of the center as well. It now works with dancers and non-dancers and provides many employment and internship opportunities throughout Nigeria and the rest of the African continent.
QDance has a mission of “embracing creativity and innovation as a way of life.” It places high importance on innovation, using it as a means to create a goal, generate creative ideas, follow through on development and practical application and make it deliver real value and products. The QDance philosophy combines art and business to create a social enterprise and works with young people primarily in order to keep striving for the future of the center. QDanceCenter believes that dance is a business and employs not only dancers but also non-dancers who ensure that all the content and intellectual properties QDance produces returns an income. Its primary focus is to make sure that the center can continue to pay employees as well as continue to tour and perform.
Dance to Make a Difference
With over 203 million people in Nigeria, 19.81 percent of the population is between the ages of 15 and 24. Of that number, 12.4 percent of the people within that age range do not have employment and are dealing with homeless issues. QDance is trying to make a difference both in the world of dance and within its own community. Currently, the Nigerian dance company employs nine full-time positions, 150 part-time positions, 20 internship opportunities and 230 indirect/outside jobs. Although it focusses primarily in Nigeria, it has made an impact in nearly 50 countries.
Onikeku considers QDance to be comprised of change-makers and says that they “have to be willing to attack something that society’s failing woefully at.” One of the other major focuses of QDance is working with dancers and artists living with disabilities. The center provides a platform for all dancers, based on talent and regardless of ability or disability. To date, QDance has trained over 100 young dancers, including those disabilities. It has amassed over 10,000 active followers and has worked with over 200 artists.
By providing employment opportunities for both dancers and non-dancers, QDanceCenter has been able to provide an income to hundreds of people as well as make a positive impact on the Lagos community in the past five years. In addition, the international community has recognized the work and talent of the center and its dancers, with many clients and artists located outside of Nigeria. Through these continued efforts, the Nigerian dance company is using dance to make a difference in the community by fighting against poverty and unemployment. Over the next several years, the organization will have helped many more people follow a passion, receive a steady income and foster a sense of community and development over an international following.
– Jessica Winarski