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Performing Arts and Community Development

Faculty-LedFaculty-Led | Arts Kenya

Module Overview

Students studying a performing arts discipline will work alongside Kenya’s most dedicated performers to train, collaborate and empower young artists in and around Nairobi. Students will also be involved in programs such as the Talanta training (involving blind and deaf performing artists), the Hospital Project (bringing edutainment to hospitalized children and children in homes and remand homes), monthly musicians’ workshops and the Artist Agency Project.

When one walks into the Sarakasi Dome off Ngara Road, the artistic capability of the acrobats, musicians and dancers at the largest performing arts center in Nairobi are immediately obvious. However, the capacity in Kenya’s arts sector has hardly reached its talent. This reality is compounded by an unfavorable youth unemployment rate. One in every five Kenyan youths of working age are unemployed, the worst rate in East Africa.

Sarakasi Trust is a performing arts development organization whose philosophy is to build public awareness, appreciation and access to the benefits of cooperative performance and artistic expression. This organization goes beyond world-class acrobatics, dance and music training and commits itself to the social, professional and economic development of its artists and community.

Location

This module will be based in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa’s fourth largest city and the economic hub of East Africa. Nairobi is a vibrant and exciting place with fascinating attractions: its café culture, unbridled nightlife, young business atmosphere and notably, just 20 minutes from the city center – wild lions and buffalo roam in the world’s only urban game reserve.

Educational Outcomes

Practical: Train alongside world-class acrobats, musicians and dancers; participate in cooperative performance and awareness-building events; and support local community outreach programs.

Theory: Work alongside local and international performers to increase Kenya’s capacity for young artists to thrive socially, professionally and economically; advance your talent through collaboration with artists from all over the world; and gain a better understanding of Kenyan art, music and culture.

Module Length

The minimum duration for this module is 7 days.  The maximum length is 21 days (longer modules may incorporate additional study locations).

Contributors

Edwin Odhiambo

Edwin Odhiambo is the creative manager and head choreographer in the dance department of Sarakasi Trust. His long career in dance began in the 1980s while he was still in primary school, sparked by his elder brother’s love for break dance and the videos he constantly watched on television. After a rocky start that saw him quit school and run away from home, he finally found his footing as a dancer with the Safari Cats dance troupe in 1995, becoming a trainer two years later. In 2004, he became a resident choreographer at Sarakasi Trust, tasked with putting together acrobats, dancers and musicians in a performances across the UK, Netherands, Italy and Switzerland.

Sarakasi facilitated many international training exchanges, providing opportunities for Edwin to grow exponentially as a trainer and choreographer. Edwin has, over time, choreographed for most of the major artists in Kenya and East Africa, especially in his role as the go-to choreographer for the East African version of the popular Project Fame series. He choreographs African, contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, salsa, Asian and rock-n-roll dance styles.

John Washika

John Washika has developed rich, hands-on experience in acrobatics and circus performance during his twenty-year career with multiple circus companies, amusement parks, theatre shows, and film productions. As Sarakasi’s head acrobatic trainer, he is instrumental in choreographing dance fusion shows. A performer and teacher, John has been involved in the development of Sarakasi Trust’s circus event programs, performances and trainings, both inside and outside of Africa.

He has experience in social circus teaching workshops organized by Zip Zap Circus School in Cape Town, facilitated by trainers from Circque du Soleil. With a wealth of experience in leading training programs and social circus team building activities for both adults and children, John has learned how to handle challenges across different environments and cultural backgrounds.

Customize Your Program

Thank you for your interest in this module and developing a faculty-led program with EDU Africa. We pride ourselves in our ability to customize a program that will meet your requirements, exceed your expectations and make your vision come to life.


Featured Experiences

Kiambethu Tea Farm

Touring the Kiambethu Tea Farm gives insight into the colonial history and economics of Kenya, as well as the process undergone to transform the leaves of a tea bush into one of the most well known beverages of all time. The tour includes a walk through indigenous forests rich with medicinal trees, as well as a delicious colonial luncheon on the lawn.

River Rafting Rapids Camp

River Tana is the perfect place for white river rafting, with rapids ranging from grades three to five. It is also the only place in for white river rafting in Kenya. Upstream and downstream currents, including waterfalls, provide different technicalities that challenge beginners as well as more experienced rafters. Rafting River Tana is a worthy adrenaline rush!

Big Cat Monitoring

Incredible wildlife is one of Africa’s most appealing icons, and is desperately in need of protection through conservation and educational projects. Many conservation efforts give rise to amazing volunteering programs, such as the opportunity to research and monitor big cats. Taking part in this project gives students a chance to deeply experience and engage with some of Africa’s most powerful and breathtaking wildlife.

Brackenhurst Botanic Gardens

Brackenhurst Botanic Gardens is a vibrant gateway into the world of pre-colonial climate diversity. Rising out of misty, rolling hills of emerald-green tea, these gardens stand as a testament to the power of environmental restoration and protection. The project began in the year 2000 and includes an arboretum of rare tree species that are critically endangered across the continent. 


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