RAI RESEARCH SEMINAR
SEMINAR SERIES AT THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE
Political Design and Cultural Creativity: Changing Dance Performances in Post-Genocide Rwanda
Dr Carine Plancke, University of Roehampton
Wednesday 26 October at 5.30 pm
Since it took power by putting an end to the 1994 genocide, the Rwandan Patriotic Front has initiated the project of building a new Rwanda. The latter is conceived as a de-ethnicised nation-state which, while being ‘modern’ and striving for socioeconomic development, remains rooted in its ancestral past. Hence, Rwandan cultural heritage is integrated in this undertaking to create a unified and developed Rwanda. This article examines the current revitalisation of ‘traditional’ dances in Kigali as part of the post-genocide endeavour to build a new national identity. It explores the changes in dance repertoire and dynamics that are brought about in current dance performances, in order to materialise the utopia of the new Rwanda. It especially points to differences between the practices and views of dancers trained in the pre-genocide period and dancers from contemporary youth troupes. In this respect, two divergent views of creativity, found among these two categories of dancers, are distinguished: a perspective that privileges improvisation as a key creative process, on the one hand, and a view of creativity as innovation and the realisation of novel, pre-designed forms, on the other.