Interview with Hakeem Onibudo: LIVEVIBE GENERATIONS
“I didn’t expect to dance so much” was what my friend said to me on the way out of Sadler’s Wells Theatre after watching LIVEVIBE GENERATIONS, an electrifying evening showcasing hot, raw talent from 15 dance companies across the UK and one all the way from north Africa. The night was a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Impact Dance, a company founded by Hakeem Onibudo a talented man who has dedicated his life to dance and given a lot of opportunity and inspiration to many people. Mr Impact Onibudo was a dynamic, engaging host, getting everyone on their feet dancing. The evening felt like a true celebration and was friendly, humble and so much fun!
Before the big night I met with Hakeem to talk about dance, its place in society, Impact Dance Company and the secret of its massive success. Talking with Hakeem was an enlightening experience. He is a man with passion, drive and vision; as one has to be in order to create something that stands the test of time the way Impact dance has. He told me the most important thing to making anything happen in life was to truly believe in yourself. He shared with me a proverb which he lives by “as a man thinketh so is he” meaning the way you think and how you act is going to determine who you are, what you do and the life you lead. So if you want something, you have to get out there and live it. He told me “Talk to everyone about it and when the chips are down push even harder.” You can see this attitude reflected by the outstanding performances from the dancers in his company.
Impact Youth, Hakeem’s Company took me by surprise. They are a group of dancers aged 11-16 and the performance they gave was truly captivating. You could see how immersed they were, they were not just going through the motions, doing a dance routine, they were telling a story, living a truth and absolutely giving it their all. To see that grit and dedication in such a young group of people really made me hopeful for the future of our society. When I met with Hakeem we spoked about whether Dance was being made as accessible as it should be, he told me “the trouble is that dance is not seen as a necessity and so it does not get the funding it deserves.” Seeing these kids perform though made me see just how necessary it is. Dance takes a lot of hard work, more than people realise because when you see the end show its looks so free, so natural that you have the idea the dancers just got up one day and free styled the whole lot. Na ah. Dance is physically demanding for a start, it takes patience, practice, team work, memory, creativity, vision, courage to get up on a stage and bare your all, these are all invaluable life skills.
This is the unique thing about Impact Dance, as Hakeem put it to me, “the main focus is building people”
“teachers need to teach dance but also history, the roots of the art, how to apply the skills, intelligence and strength needed for dance to ‘real life’ and make well rounded individuals, this is what gives a performance aesthetic and why Dance is so necessary. We teach people to take these skills and carry them onto other aspects of life, its building strong foundations and enriching communities” These values were certainly reflected in the performances on Saturday night.
Every company showed outstanding talent but for my top pic, SoH! Dance company with their interesting opening to their piece using no music, only synchronized breathing to create a beat which must’ve taken hours of practice, Zoonation with their fun, expolsive take on the lion the witch on the wardrobe story and Fly No Filter who gave a really unique performance that combined narrative spoken word and bboyin to communicate the sometimes ugly but beautiful truths of parenting. These were three groups that really stood out. The group however that stole the show for me were North Africa Dynamics. Their powerful combination of physical theatre and breakdancing was hard hitting and seemed to lay bare so many emotions. They performed with a ferocity that was almost chilling and the performance left a tangible buzz hanging in the air that you could feel throughout your whole body.
Keep your eyes out for any of these dance companies or any events presented by Hakeem Onibudo aka Mr Impact. If you have the chance I would strongly recommend you go, you are guaranteed to have a blast.
Reporter: Olive Walton