Kenya Performing Arts Programs
As you work with highly skilled Kenyan performing artists in the slums of Nairobi, you will begin to understand the unique role of performing arts in East African urban society.
Spend time teaching workshops to after school groups, attend dance performances around the city, and help with the administration of a vibrant and thriving dance group. This volunteer experience will challenge and inspire you as you witness firsthand the power of theatre to change marginalised communities for the better. As an international volunteer, you will bring valuable skills to the table, but you will also gain unparalleled insight into the awe and resiliency of the human condition.
Theatre Volunteering in Kenya
VOCAL (Voices Of Change All Over) is a network of young people using dance, music, drama, and acrobatics for development, education, and social change in their communities. The participants in VOCAL come from the most marginalised areas of Nairobi’s sprawling slums and address issues of drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, prostitution, ethnic violence, rape, child abuse, and many others. Probably the most important educative tool in VOCAL is drama. The main drama group consists of about a dozen young adults who meet every day of the week to rehearse and create skits to perform in the community.
Music Volunteering in Kenya
Work with talented musicians who are using music for education, social change, and development in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi. Experience the transformative power of performance firsthand. Previous independent travel in Africa is helpful, and/or the ability to work independently and be self-motivated. As you work with highly skilled Kenyan performing artists in the slums of Nairobi, you will begin to understand the unique role of music in East African urban society. Spend time teaching workshops to after school groups, attend music performances around the city, and help with the administration of vibrant and thriving musical groups. Within VOCAL's music program, there are bands, hip hop groups, drumming, singing, and more. One band was formerly called “Sauti za Kwetu”, which means “Voices from our Homeland.” This group of young people writes songs in an effort to create change in their communities, and they have become very popular in the Kenyan music scene. They are now known as Sarabi, and tour both nationally and internationally.
Dance Volunteering in Kenya
Dancers in VOCAL choreograph their pieces in such a way that the audience will learn a lesson. Also, in an urban setting where many Kenyan ethnic communities are represented, dances display a variety of movements with which many different people can identify. In a way, this merging of cultures has eased some existing “tribal” tension and clashes in the area, directly addressing one of the slum's biggest problems of crime. At the end of a week of rehearsals, the drama group, dancers, acrobats, and musicians join together for a community outreach. To attract a crowd, several musicians set up drums in an open area and being playing. Once an audience has gathered, the acrobats begin a show by doing flips, cartwheels, and other gymnastics. They proceed to create towering human structures and contorted shapes reminiscent of France’s Cirque du Soleil. After doing back flips through a spinning jump rope and swallowing fire, several hundred more people have usually gathered. At this point, the dancers thrust their bodies into the scene with powerful movements that represent different themes. In a very direct way, dance educates the community about important themes that lead to positive social change.
“Nairobi was such an eye opening experience that will always, always stay with me. I learned so so much, not just about this type of theatre but about myself and about other people and other cultures. The people out there are amazing. It literally was incredible and honestly life changing and I can’t wait to go back again. If you feel drawn to this programme don’t hold back, just go for it and you won’t regret it.”
-Bria de la Mare
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