Guest Artist Story, May 5, 2021
Kultur Stories was pleased to have Tereka Kenneth Desire speak as a guest artist for our eighth session, on May 5th. Tereka is a professional choreographer and dancer from Kampala, Uganda. He is also the founder and artistic director of the Yutta Konvictz Dance Society, which aims to connect with the community[WF1] to raise awareness about social issues that ail the country. The group started with performing in school tours, where Tereka took inspiration from the audience members’ responses to create his pieces, such as his dance Dark Tears. They have also performed in Kenya and Rwanda.
Tereka shared clips of three of his dances: The Ritual, Drenched Tears and Dark Tears, performed by the Yutta Konvictz Society. The dances highlight the issues of gender-based violence and rape.
Kultur Stories co-leader Cindy C. Oxberry interviewed Tereka about his experiences as an artist, and his efforts in using his art as means to express and raise awareness about issues affecting [his?]society and community, such as domestic violence against women and children. Tereka spoke on his journey in following his passions of pursuing dance/choreography as a professional career, and the founding and purpose of the Yutta Konvictz Dance Society. He also shared his advice to the scholars on creating a performance piece for the Kultur Stories program, and he emphasized the importance of being open-minded and taking inspiration from various sources, including exchanging ideas and art with one another.
Our scholars were deeply moved by his presentation. South Sudanese scholar Nyandeng Diing Deng shared, “[Tereka] inspired me.” She was impressed with how the dances were created with the intention to carry a message, especially in Dark Tears. She said, “[The dance] reminds us how bad drugs are and everything affecting us in our youth.” Nyandeng concluded, “His [works] really affected others, including me.”
Lead Teacher Wyatt Oroke agreed with Nyandeng, reflecting on his takeaways from the presentation: “When [Tereka] was talking about being open-minded and not having limits when you start creating, that really stood out to me. I think sometimes I limit myself and think something has to be one way.” He appreciated Tereka’s advice on the freedom of creativity, and how his words helped him think about the creative process in a different light.
Intern Joyce Koo reflected on her impression upon watching the performances of Tereka’s dances: “I was surprised to see how Tereka’s works carry such heavy (and sometimes dark) themes. These ideas weren’t conveyed in an abstract or representational sense, either — if anything, his choreography is designed to express these issues clearly. Yet I find that I admire this straightforward expression of his artistry. These issues are very important and need to be addressed (and not just locally, but also globally), and by using his talent and platform to shine the spotlight on these topics, Tereka gives a voice to the people affected by these issues, who otherwise may not have the chance to be represented. The way that he communicates such profound messages in his overt yet artistic manner inspires me to explore the different ways in which I can express myself/my messages through my own work.” Learn more about Tereka Kenneth Desire and the Yutta Konvictz Dance Society in The Jüdische Kulturbund Project’s Shared Stories collection here.
[WF1]I have no idea what this means! Act as AN outreach? Maybe DOES outreach? But outreach for what?