After the highly successful I Love Botswana Ensemble performance at the ITB Berlin, Germany in March 2017, I sat with its art director, Andrew Kola to share his dance journey from the dusty streets of G-West to the world’s biggest tourism stage.
At the end of the interview I enquired from the man, “So what’s next?” “The ultimate dream for any director; production in Broadway in the US,” he declared.
Another of Kola’s dreams was shared after the thrilling Pula show during the 2016 Maitisong festival. Speaking at the end of the inspiring show that fittingly received a standing ovation, Kola told the Maitisong audience that they could only do better if they got Batswana’s support.
He said the group is made up of dedicated dancers that should do dance as a day job instead of part-time. “If we were doing this as our nine-to-five, we could be far,” Kola said .
Today, both of Kola’s dreams have been realised and in the most inspiring way. “We are going for the biggest stage in the world,” he announced in an interview with Arts & Culture at University of Botswana.
Kola is preparing for the biggest art production Botswana has ever exported. In August, the I Love Botswana Ensemble would travel to the US to stage Pula on Broadway in New York City.
I Love Botswana Ensemble is an incredible theatrical collaboration of seven dance groups in Botswana namely; Nare Tsa Pina, Khudu Thamaga, Mophato Dance Theatre, Ntirelang Berman, Skit Beat, Tsoga Africa and Bana Ba Kwena.
Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) is the co-creator and founding executive producer of the ensemble and their major production to this date was at ITB Berlin 2017. The new cast preparing for Broadway comprises of 46 people. “They work from nine to five every weekday as they prepare the biggest gig of their lifetime,” reported Kola.
Two years ago
Next month before taking Botswana to Broadway on August 22 to 23, Mophato Dance Theatre would once again perform at the Battery Festival in New York from August 18 to 19. What are they taking to Broadway?
Kola has exclusively revealed to Arts & Culture that they are bringing Pula to Broadway. Pula is powerful theatre production that is unique and authentic to Botswana as it tells the story of rain-making by the people of Botswana.
“The version of Pula that we would be staging in Broadway is more applied and would be really powerful,” Kola said.
He said the story would show the relationship of Batswana with nature as well as the impact of climate change for the people that live in the harsh Kalahari Desert.
Kola is packaging the energy of bo moroka – the rainmaking traditionalists, African traditional Christian Churches, the Hossanas deep from beyond Domboshaba, the bouncing phatisi men who have tasted the dust of Dithubaruba, to new the contemporary dancers.
Judging from the dedication of the ensemble rehearsals this promises to be a historic production that would leave lasting memories about Botswana. It is a major milestone for the arts industry in the country and dream come true for a young man who was initially reluctant to be a dancer.