Uchenna Dance – Our Mighty Groove is back on a National Tour in Autumn 2016
The production is inspired by choreographer Vicki Igbokwe’s baptism of fire at a New York nightclub.
Vicki – who was part of the Mass Movement Choreography team at the London Olympics in 2012 – is already wowing audiences on tour with The Head Wrap Diaries and rather than create new shows she wants to spend the next five years or so developing these two blockbusters.
“Our Mighty Groove is based around the first time I went to New York in 2008 on a research trip recommended to me,” said Vicki, who has led Uchenna Dance since it was formed in London in 2009.
“I saw these amazing dancers, not just professionals, everyday people too and every one of them was amazing. I spent about two hours with my back against the wall. Several people came up to me and asked me to dance and I cringe about it now because I said: ‘Oh, no, no, I’m from London’.”
Vicki stood there as a lone figure as everyone else in the room had a wonderful time. “What made it worse was this one guy kept catching my eye, and as I looked away I could feel him getting closer. About the fourth time I repeated the pathetic line that I was from London.
“He took me into what we call a cypher, a circle. I’d been to a house dance session earlier in the day and I did the moves I learnt from that and all the people around me cheered so much I felt like Janet Jackson.
“I felt as if I’d been baptised and I was one of the last people to leave the dance floor. When I got back to London I knew this experience had changed me. Those dancers just felt like making me feel good, and that’s what Our Mighty Groove is all about. It made me realise that we don’t get positive affirmation enough in our lives. So that was the inspiration for the show.
With Our Mighty Groove the theatre is transformed into that New York-style club. The audience has no seating and many wonder where they are.
“The performers mingle with the audience under the spotlight and as I watch from afar I see all the different elements that I went through that night in New York,” said Vicki. “Some people are literally back up against the wall, the same as I was.
“The audience then gets to choose how much or how little they want to get involved, just like being in a club. I love the show and we’ve had such great feedback from every performance we have done since 2013.”
Vicki’s two shows have the common theme of empowerment, entertainment and education. “I want people to think fierce, be fabulous and live free,” she said. “It sounds as corny as can be but it works for me and the people I work with. I want people to feel empowered and knowing that they matter, they count.
“When I go to a show I want to connect with it and also to escape a little bit. It has to move me in one way or another. My phrase is to continue to step into your growth. You can’t be everything to everyone. Work at your craft and stay in your lane. We get so bogged down looking left and right. Stay in your lane. Know that you are good enough and doing a good service to the world.”
“Dance is such a universal language. Even if you don’t fully understand the story there’s an emotional connection. You can feel their pain, their anger or their happiness. That to me is so powerful.”
OUR MIGHTY GROOVE
Oct 15 – Platform Theatre, London 6pm & 7:45pm | £12 (£10 concession)
Nov 10 – Trinity Arts Centre, Bristol 7:30pm | £12 (£10 concession) +booking fee
Nov 19 – ACE Dance and Music, Birmingham 6pm & 8:15pm | £10 (£8 early bird) + booking fee
Nov 26 – Vibez 924, Oldham 8pm & 10pm | £8 (£5 early bird) + booking fee
Dec 1 – Pavilion Dance South West, Bournemouth 7:30pm | £12 (£10 concession) | £8 (groups of 10+) | £6 (under 26)