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Performing Arts and Community Development

Faculty-LedFaculty-Led | Arts Kenya

Overview

While the artistic capability of Nairobi’s performing artists cannot be more evident, the capacity in Kenya’s arts sector has hardly reached its pique. 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.

Through a faculty-led program, students studying a performing arts discipline can work alongside Kenya’s most dedicated performers to collaborate with young artists in and around Nairobi. Students will also be involved in programs such as the Talanta training (involving deaf performing artists), the Hospital Project (bringing edutainment to hospitalized children and children in homes and remand homes), monthly musicians workshops and Artist Agency Project, in an effort to empower and be empowered by performing art peers in the Nairobi context.

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 themselves to the social, professional and economic development of their artists and community.

Why Nairobi?

Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya and the economic hub of East Africa. It is a vibrant and intriguing city, characterized by the hustle and bustle of its busy streets and the industry and innovation of the people who inhabit it.

Nairobi is also a city of stark contrasts – between rich and poor, young and old, and open plains and skyscrapers. While its social, economic and historical achievements are numerous, perhaps Nairobi’s most famous characteristic is the fact that it is the only city in the world to boast an urban national park – just 20 minutes from the city center, wild animals roam freely in the Nairobi National Park.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate increased acrobatic and dancing aptitude through training with world-class performers
  • Develop intercultural competence and group communication skills through participation in cooperative performance and awareness-building events
  • Contextualize local community outreach programs and demonstrate meaningful avenues for sustainable support
  • Analyze the history of performing arts in Nairobi and its expressions in the present day

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 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

Our friendly and experienced team will work closely with you from conceptualization to execution, ensuring that each faculty-led program achieves your specific learning goals. We pride ourselves in our ability to create unique, sustainable and truly African transformative learning journeys.


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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