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The Namasagali experience: performing Utopia
Research in Dance Education  (IF),  Pub Date : 2020-09-08, DOI: 10.1080/14647893.2020.1812562
Jill Pribyl

ABSTRACT

It has been almost twenty years since Namasagali College, a co-educational secondary school in Eastern Uganda, staged its last performance, yet the memory of these musical theater productions are recalled with the nostalgia of a lost renaissance. These transdisciplinary productions that utilized modern dance, acting and mimed songs transformed the education of students from the Freirian ‘banking system’ into a liberating educational experience where students participated in the co-creation of these theatrical works. With Father Damien Grimes, Mill Hill Missionary from Wales, at the helm, more than 25 productions were staged during his years as headmaster (1971–2000). What Grimes never lost sight of was the performing arts pedagogy he initiated, which transformed the school into a self-made institution of hope despite the political instability that impacted the school throughout his tenure. This paper investigates the questions of agency, innovation and the role of performance in the self-fashioning of a liberated feminist self among the female students of Namasagali. Drawing on interviews from former students and teachers, this article will discuss the notion of solidarity among students within a modern dance world view as practised in a post-colonial education system.