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LIhua Mo- Hunter ’23: Development of Music, Dance, and Drama (MDD) Program

Project Date:
Project Date: Summer 2022

Training at the Ndere Cultural Centre to learn Ugandan dances and instruments as part of the Development of Music, Dance, and Drama (MDD) Program in Kalangala, Uganda.

About the Program

I received funding to train at the Ndere Cultural Centre with members of the Ndere troupe to learn Ugandan dances and instruments. Funding was also used for my Ugandan University “twin”, Christinah Namwaanga for our travel, lodging, and food at Ndere, and purchasing a new drumset for Kibanga Primary School. Working with the Ndere Troupe, Christinah and I learned cultural dances such as Bakisimba and Renyege, which were adapted into our MDD performance with students who were already participants of the existing MDD troupe at Kibanga primary school. Lastly, the award provided me the opportunity to have Centurio Balikoowa, a prominent MDD leader in Uganda, to join us to help work with the children and ensure that the program was successful, up to par, and aligned with our goal of being culturally accurate.

Overall, our work was very challenging having to teach multiple instruments and dances, running rehearsals, creating formations, and directing the entire performance. We met with the students every day for 3 weeks rehearsing 2-3 hours a day after the students were let out of school. Teaching the students the proper technique learned at Ndere for Bakisimba and Renyege, as well as teaching the history behind these dances were necessary for our success; as our time at Ndere brought us a unique and informed cultural awareness to prepare us for creating the MDD Sickle Cell Program.

Despite the challenges of having a strict time schedule to get the show to the proper standards and having to teach multiple components to the performance, working with the students, their MDD teacher, and Centurio was very rewarding and eye-opening. I was able to develop close relationships with the students and loved to work with them. Their enthusiasm and excitement towards learning and performing well backed my drive to create the best show possible. It was an honor to develop the program and to work with the students to finally see a successful end product that embodied the efforts we had all put in.

What changes did you notice in your summer experience due to COVID-19?

I noticed that I was able to have more freedom in the creation of the program and in being able to interact with many students at Kibanga. Had the project been conducted during the height of covid, or even last summer, I would not have had the same opportunities of traveling and studying at Ndere, working with the children, or even going to Uganda at all. I feel as though there was a unique energy afforded to me because I was so excited to initiate work from some of the worst times of COVID and being able to do this field work.