African dancers dancing in the streets of Montevideo

december 2005 -

From 11 to 21 November 2005, Uruguay hosted the third international dance festival Montevideo Sitiada. This event includes both dance shows and discussions and workshops about cultural identity. The festival serves as a showcase for the talents of not just Latin-American dancers but also African and European ones too.

Affiche Montevideo

One of the chief aims of the festival is to raise the profile of modern dance, something achieved by literally bringing dance to the city's residents, with dancers, choreographers, architects and local residents working together to make inventive use of public areas. A lot of the shows are put on in the streets and squares themselves, to ensure that people from all walks of life can see them.

"We are targeting several groups, including youngsters, and especially those from disadvantaged neighbourhoods. We bring dance into their lives, through workshops and our work with churches and community centres. In other words, the festival also has an important educational role to play," says Paul Domenack, festival worker. "We want to use dance to show youngsters that everybody has something that they can learn to do well."

The workshops and shows put on by dancers such as Muturi, who hails from Kenya, and Liadi, who comes from Nigeria, were very popular. Students from the dance academy, who were relatively unfamiliar with African dance, were impressed by the dancers" vigour and energy, and also with their views on the artistic calling and on what it is means to be an African artist.

Domenack says that the festival was a great success and achieved a great deal. "Hundreds of people coming together, every day, to see national and international productions! And this is only the festival's third year - more people will come every year and will expect more from the Montevideo Sitiada festival. It's a great challenge."

Montevideo Sitiada receives financial support from the Prince Claus Fund.