Nigeria 2023

Abuja & Lagos, Nigeria


  • July 5 – 8, 2023: Lagos
  • July 9 – 16, 2023: Abuja (Watch the highlights from Abuja)


  • U.S. Embassy Abuja
  • U.S. Consulate Lagos
  • Eko Hotel & Suites (in-kind)
  • Air Peace (in-kind)

    Program Activities:

  • 7 Dancing to Connect Groups Resulting in 7 New Dance Works
  • 136 Total Dancing to Connect Participants
  • 2 Public Performances for 740 Total Audience Members
  • 50 Children Impacted via Supplemental Workshops
  • 1 Art Activation at a Local Gallery

    Follow-on Program: Dance for Impact by Krump Studios

    Via a Separate Grant From U.S. Embassy Abuja

  • 5 New Communities Reached
  • 158 Dance for Impact Participants
  • 5 Public Performances for 1,336 Audience Members
  • 95 Children and Youth Supplemental Class Participants
  • 70 children Signed Up to Learn Ballet and Contemporary Dance
  • 11 School Scholarships Provided
  • 234 Individuals Provided Medical Care or Donated Items
  • 35 Women Trained and 1 New Website Developed


  • Eko Hotel (Lagos)
  • NUC hall in Maitama (Abuja)

  • Lagos

    The Battery Dance team of eight conducted a jampacked 3-day program in Lagos, a city where the Company had taught and performed three times previously and where it had established a robust bilateral relationship with SPAN (Society for the Performing Arts of Nigeria). With the support of the U.S. Consulate General, Battery and SPAN devised a sequence of workshops that compressed the usual 5-day Dancing to Connect model of youth engagement into 3 days, packing as much information, training, and sharing as possible in the time allotted. In addition, Artistic Director Jonathan Hollander conducted tv, radio and print media interviews and an inspirational talk with the older dancers and teachers. The team found time to create a short video “art activation” in cooperation with Tiwani Contemporary, one of the world’s leading galleries of contemporary African and diaspora art.

    16 hours of intensive workshop time was spread over two days with morning and afternoon shifts led by four Battery Dance teaching artists. 35 youth and young adults took part, demonstrating remarkable talent, attitude, and motivation, exceeding all challenges, cooperating seamlessly with each other and inspiring the New York team with their creativity.

    In addition to the Dancing to Connect workshops with trained dancers, a large group of about 50 children, ages 8 – 12, were bussed in both days by Footprint of David Art Foundation, an NGO that serves the Bariga community.

    Battery Dance Teaching Artist Razvan Stoian taught workshops on both days with the children who were bursting with enthusiasm and full of appetite for dancing and creating. On the final day, rehearsals and a performance were staged in the grand ballroom of the Eko Hotel. The two workshop groups performed their self-created choreography with much appreciation from the 300 audience members. A group of children from Bariga, a subset of those who took Razvan’s workshop, performed local drumming and dancing styles and a local brother and sister performed a classical ballet piece.

    Battery Dance presented two dances from its repertoire at the beginning and end of the program, demonstrating to the workshop participants their artistry for the first time since they had only been known up until then as trainers.

    Sarah Boulos commented, “It was incredible… very thought provoking and helped a lot of our dancers to dig deeper than just the commercial aspect of dance.”

    One immediate follow on: SPAN veteran dancer and Bariga teacher Moses Olayinka Akintunde has received support from Battery Dance members who helped him purchase his flights to France where he is taking up a one-year fellowship at the ESPE Dance Conservatory.


    The Abuja portion of the program placed six Battery Dance Teaching Artists in five local dance studios (or adjunct spaces) for five days with 10 team heads, 100+ youth and young adult participants and a combined total of 100 hours of dance training. The culminating performance at the NUC hall in Maitama on the sixth day was a joyous affair in which each of the five groups of participants presented their completed choreographies, Krump Studios presented a trio choreographed by Jemima Angulu, and Battery Dance presented a duet and a group work from its repertoire. A massive thunderstorm contributed to the fact that the audience stayed in the auditorium for nearly 45 minutes after the show concluded, experiencing the afterglow of such an exhilarating experience. Cultural Attache Julie McKay represented the Embassy with a warm welcome to the audience and, along with Jonathan Hollander and members of the Battery Dance, Jemima and local studio heads, took part in televised interviews after the show.

    For the first time in Battery Dance’s 17-year history of conducting Dancing to Connect projects around the world, a locally driven “phase two” occurred immediately after the American company’s program concluded. With support from the U.S. Embassy, Krump Studios carried on a program they called Dance for Impact over several weeks. Jemima, Thomas Moses and the team leaders went into five communities outside Abuja, rural places where such big-hearted training and resources would be extremely rare (and much needed.)

    Lagos, Nigeria

    Lagos, Nigeria


  • November 1 - November 16, 2013


    • Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN)
    • SCOA Nigeria Plc.
    • I.T.B. Nigeria Limited
    • Robert Sterling Clark Foundation

    Project Activities

    As part of SpanFest 2013: * 2 Dancing to Connect workshops with 36 participants for 4 days x 5 hours * 1 Dancing to Connect/full company performance (audience of 250) * 1 15 minute jazz performance (audience of 75) * 1 musical composition workshop for 18 participants 4 days x 3 hours * 1 vocal training workshop for 3 participants for 4 days x 2.5 hours * 4 1.5 hour masterclasses (Ballet, Hip/Hop-Trance, Contemporary, Improvisation)

  • 1 new repertoire creation workshop with 42 participants, 3 choreographers for 4 days x 3.5 hours (resulting in 21 minute piece) * 1 final performance featuring 15 min. jazz performance, 15 min. Battery Dance performance, and 21 min. new choreographic work (audience of 200) * Technical production for 5 performance days


    • Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN)]
    • SpanFest

    Venues * SPAN Studios ( 1 Abuja Street, Banana Island, Lagos) * Constructed tent/stage/workshop space between Eko Hotel and Ocean View Restaurant


  • Over 20 media interviews

  • Security is Expensive

    Most western governments and people will tell you not to use local taxi transportation nor to walk around the city (especially at night), due to a high risk of kidnapping. This results in shuttling back and forth between one secure location and another. These high security zones are not cheap and rival NYC prices and can sometimes be more expensive. At the Eko Hotel & Suites, without sponsorship, a standard one night stay is around $450 per night and the dinner buffet is over $50 per meal, with internet $10 per day. You'll find similar prices at other secure locations so be sure to budget accordingly, or have the necessary partnership(s) in place to reduce these expenses accordingly.

    Prepare for the Airport

    The Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos can be chaotic. On arrival, we had a minder meet us at the gate. Another assisted us with our luggage and escorted us through crowds to a waiting car. Do not leave any luggage unattended or out of your hands! Targeting of foreign visitors at the airport is commonplace. Ignore anyone who approaches you or offers assistance outside of baggage claim. If someone will be meeting you at the airport, they will most likely meet you at the gate. The departure was equally chaotic. Leave for the airport more than 4 hours before your flight. We faced long line after long line at the airport which took more than 2 hours to get through. Fights also erupted between passangers waiting and passengers cutting the line and between motorists trying to get to the airport. Do not get involved in altercations in any way. The currency exchange is not easily located in the airport! Be sure to exchange any left over Naira before the airport because outside of Nigeria the currency becomes worthless and cannot be exchanged. Also, restrooms are not easily located and the airport is not air conditioned.

    Eastern Standard Time vs Nigerian Standard Time

    In the East Coast United States, there is a common saying that time equals money; punctuality is paramount. The opposite holds true for Lagos. Tardiness is commonplace: for meetings, arrival of equipment/materials, transportation pickups, etc. During this program, we waited nearly 3 hours for the technical company providing lighting and sound equipment to arrive for a tech-meeting, even though they said they were right around the corner. The final performance/gala began 2.5 hours late due to ticketed attendees arriving late. Do not get upset! The lack of respect for time does not mean a lack of respect for you and getting angry will achieve nothing. Tardiness is just part of the local culture. Instead, be sure to have a local mobile from which you can politely pressure people on the time. Also, try and have a dedicated driver for your program. Otherwise, keep calm and carry on.

    Traffic, Traffic, Traffic

    Traffic in Lagos is horrible. This is due to the fact that there are only a few thoroughfares that cut across the island to the mainlands The traffic problem will only get worse as new developments in Lagos emerge and no new brides are constructed. Below are the worst times to travel on the road:

    Lagos Island to Victoria Island: 9am - 11am

    Victoria Island to Lagos Island: 4pm - 6pm

    Anywhere: 1pm - 2pm

    Stay Healthy

    Be sure to avoid any street food and absolutely do not drink any water from the tap. If possible, use bottled water to brush your teeth as well. Lagos has open air sewers running through the city. As a result some people use the sides of roads as public restrooms. Be sure to bring your malaria prophylaxis , get your yellow fever vaccination, bring Cipro, and wash your hands frequently. Carry around bottled water with you always: Dehydration/heat stroke is a big risk.

    Visa Issues

    Getting the visa to visit Nigeria can be a lengthy process. Budget for an expedited visa, even if you are applying more than 2 weeks in advance and be prepared to visit the consulate (if applying in NYC) multiple times. Even if you are applying for a tourism visa, you will need a letter from a local Nigerian inviting you to come and indicating that they will oversee your visit. If it is a Nigerian organization inviting you, you will need their certificate of incorporation for the application. Start the visa process at least 4 weeks in advance if possible.


    Power outages occur multiple times every day and do not last more than 5 minutes - be sure to have two professional event generators if you are planning an event. The local mobile network is very poor - do not plan on having long conversations on the telephone. Visits to the U.S. Consulate require advance notice for access to be provided. Use cash and avoid using ATM or Debit Cards.

    Lagos, Nigeria

    Lagos, Nigeria

    Lagos, Nigeria, November, 2011


    • November 7 –13, 2011


    • U.S. Department of State Africa Regional Services
    • United States Embassy Nigeria

    Project Activities

    • 1 Dancing to Connect performance at National Center for the Arts, Lagos
    • 2 Dancing to Connect workshops with approximately 17 students in each, 5 hours x 4 days per workshop
    • Lighting workshop by BDC Production Designer Barry Steele
    • 1 Master Class


    • The Society for Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN) Sarah Boulos, Chairperson
    • Segun Lawal


    • National Arts Theatre
    • The Society for Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN)


    • Robin Cantrell and Barry Steele interview at The Beat 99.9 FM Radio

    Emergency Contact Information

    When our team was en route to Nigeria, warnings were issued by the State Department regarding the potential of bombings at Western hotels in Abuja, the capital. Our group was headed for Lagos at the other end of the country; but nonetheless, family members could have been alarmed. Fortunately, we have a file of emergency contacts for each of our people and this was the time to send out periodic bulletins to make sure that everyone near and dear was kept apprised of our team's whereabouts and condition (which, fortunately, was perfect.) We also used FB and our blog to post updates (nothing alarming, just a day by day status report) to assure the larger network of friends and family.

    Building Bilateral Relationships

    Through the bonding that our team did with the founder/director of the Society for the Performing Arts of Nigeria Sarah Boulos (who was pivotal in organizing our programs in Lagos), discussions ensued regarding the bringing of a group of dance teachers from SPAN to New York to participate in the workshops Battery Dance Company was organizing for its annual Downtown Dance Festival. It is almost unbelievable to realize that within less than 1 year, this plan was brought to fruition. BDC assisted with the visas and steeply discounted hotel rooms. Sarah pulled together the funding; and 4 wonderful Nigerians appeared in New York for an intensive series of workshops over the period of two weeks in August, 2012. Unfortunately, several others were not granted visas by the Consulate in Lagos, despite all efforts, pointing to the sometimes seemingly random results of applying for U.S. Visas by foreign nationals.

    Battery Dance began its 2011 Africa Tour by first stopping in Lagos, Nigeria and Maseru, Lesotho. In order to visit all four of the African countries part of the tour, the group was split into two smaller teams of three. Robin Cantrell, Sean Scantlebury, and Barry Steele formed one team and traveled to Nigeria and Guinea. Carmen Nicole, Bafana Matea and Mira Cook comprised the other subgroup and worked in Lesotho and Zambia. Robin, Sean, and Barry stayed and worked around Lagos, Nigeria. Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa is bifurcated along sectarian lines; Muslims mainly inhabit the northern part of the countries while Christians reside in the south. Unfortunately, these divisions often lead to political instability and civil strife, making Lagos, the former capital and chief city relatively unsafe.

    Despite these challenges the group successfully interacted with the locals and admired their dancing abilities. Robin and Sean were faced with the challenges of miscommunications and a lack of adequate rehearsal space, as the Society for the Performing Arts of Nigeria (SPAN), was the only dance studio in Lagos. Robin found her group to be particularly talented and expressive and enjoyed conducting the Dancing to Connect workshops with a group of 13 dancers between the ages of 21 and 32. After Barry rendered the National Arts Theater’s sound system usable, the students conducted a Dancing to Connect performance while Sean and Robin performed 3 duets at the venue. Additionally, a local traditional African group displayed their own piece.

    The team benefited greatly from their relationship with Sarah Boulos of SPAN and Segun Lawal. Sarah came to New York in January 2012, to attend several conferences and meet the rest of the company. Her experience with Battery Dance and the DtC workshops encouraged her to pursue further bilateral engagements with Battery Dance. Four DtC participants from Nigeria were also able to travel to New York to take part in the August 2012 Battery Dance Company’s Downtown Dance Festival.

    2011 Africa Tour

    Lagos, Nigeria
    Conakry, Guinea
    Maseru, Lesotho
    Lusaka, Zambia


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