We’ve had a number of birthdays with different, crazy themes thrown around town on a regular. If they’re not dressed in pink then they’re popping balloons & what not.
This time, away from the usual birthday hullaballoo we always see around, it was a twist in the game as hyped gospel lovers met at the National Theatre to celebrate 10 years in the dance industry by none other than the Storm Riders Dance Crew. Keeping time was on the dot.
For an industry that has rarely seen dance groups go past as far as five years as a solid a team, especially in the gospel world, it was no doubt that these young men & women had to make a celebration this big, fun and crazy.
Born from Watoto Church, Ntinda in 2009, the Storm Riders, the name coming from the everyday hiccups, trials & challenges (Storms) faced by the members & they over coming them (Riders) the group has gone through a lot of transformations & change ups to date that none of the current members is actually a founding/ original member. Now that’s quite a transformative journey. I’d as well like to add on that officially, unless any other steps up, this is the only dance group with members having the most academic qualifications in Uganda. I am telling you, from social workers, communication specialists to surveyors, these guys have it all. It clearly goes on to show that one can still go on with their hobby and yet still handle other aspects of life pretty well. Some are even have married with kids too? Isn’t that inspiring enough?
With great lighting, superb sound, precise time management and an engaging emcee, they didn’t disappoint their noisy and eagerly excited guests who had packed the Theatre by the time the show started by bringing along some of their other performing friends to liven up the mood. One of the crowd favorite was Afrie.
A richly voiced, keyboard player who I am sure is about to send Alicia Keys to retirement. She kept the audience in sync with her performance as she charted them up & made them sing along to some of her music, one of the crowd favorite being teliyo balala. She also went down the empowerment road with her African girl song which highlights how God created women as powerful, strong and brilliant. By the end of her performance I just wanted a selfie & an autograph but too bad backstage was closed even to the media. Sad. Anyways, it turns out that she’s also an AFRIMMA Awards nominee 2019 for songwriter of the year and best inspiration song. Go vote!
The colorful Clay Dance Company lit up the stage in an energetic, afro-pop dance performance that made the crowd go crazy, jumped and danced. I honestly haven’t enjoyed some good, well-choreographed salsa performances in Uganda till the Chains Off took the stage – these guys brought Latino down to Africa. The Mariachi must be screaming in envy. Man, The Bravaz Dance Crew evoked the popping spirit in me. They were a force.
Despite all these crazy dance acts, mistake number one, never try to upstage the main act. The moment the birthday babies stepped on stage, it was a whole new atmosphere. They put on a show I should be forgiven to think it took over a year to perfect. It had well-rehearsed drama skits and dance routines that kept drawing cheers from the crowd that seemed to know these guys by name. Their act was opened with a very strong and spirited poetic act by Wake Mwana Weika who talked to us about the importance of being rooted in Christ.
Because we were in a gospel atmosphere, the word of God had to be shared and there was no better person to do that than Pastor Brian Barungi of Watoto who described Storm Riders as a group of young people that started out at high school fellowships and because of loving what they were doing and their commitment to brave the stormy weather, something that should drive us, they stayed together till this day. He also stressed that we should give glory to God for blessing us with the talents, encouraged us to grow them & that we should learn specific characters that may enable us be where we are.
I would like to send much appreciation to Gideon ‘Slomo’ Sekiwano of Storm Riders Dance Crew for the invite and knowing you as a personal friend from back in time. Man, I retired from the industry but it makes me happy that you still rock steady. Send my shouts to the team. Maybe we’ll meet again. Ninnojackjr Photography, you did a great job too mate.