‘Block 13 is All About Us’

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Sarah Boulus, Founder of the Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN), tells Mary Ekah about SPAN’s latest addition, ‘Block 13’, a music and dance drama masterpiece to be showcased next Friday, October 21, during the Muson Festival in Lagos

The Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN) has continued to dazzle Nigerians with innovative performances. So now tell us, what is new?
Every year as an organisation – an academy and a presenting house, we usually launch a theme every September and our theme for this year is ‘Collaborate to Innovate’ and on that note we are embanking on a number of collaborations this year. First, we started with collaboration during the Children’s Day celebration. Our second collaboration will be with the Muson Festival 2016 billed to hold on Friday, October 21, 2016 at the AGIP Recital Hall, the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos. During the Muson Festival event, SPAN will showcase its captivating production ‘Block 13’, a music and dance drama, which revolves around hope, love and wonders. It is a story of our coming to the SPAN hub, the Agidigba Community Centre at Marina, Lagos.

We have not officially launched the Centre but we have been operating there for about two years and there are many stories coming out from there and ‘Block 13’ is one of the stories. It is titled ‘Block 13’ because we are located on house number 13 of the Davies Street in Lagos. We believe that it is the community creations that make our journey unfold. We have been there for two years now and the Centre is so vibrant in the community. In fact, everybody in that neigbourhood knows what we do in the Centre and I think it is giving more hope to people in the neighbourhood and at the same time it gives more confidence to develop more things and so we plan to open a Jazz Club at Block 13. We started by naming the Centre, Agidigba Community Centre but now every body is calling it Block 13.

What is the main story behind the dance drama, Block 13?
We wanted to be sure that even in the period of hardship like this that we all are living in, there is perseverance and understanding that no matter what it is, we need to think and plan for something better. It is a very interesting story full of love, hope and courage. ‘Block 13’ is the gripping story of a group of people who lived different lives, have different aspirations but found themselves bound together by the common hope they found in the apartment, Block 13. It is a mesmerising plot filled with chart-topping songs and dance, which SPAN is famously known for. Block 13 is the story that everyone will relate with. It shows us that within every sphere of our lives, even if things aren’t the way we want them, there is always that glimmer of hope, that in the end, everything will turn out right. It is a show worth watching. It is family –friendly, entertaining and inspire the within.

Why a collaboration with Muson?
We are collaborating with Muson because they noticed us and then gave us a chance and we had to answer that call. I am now looking forward to a long-term relationship with Muson because I believe that people grow together in the industry when they collaborate. The Muson Festival is also opening doors for one of our dance groups, Stars on Earth (SOE) and that to me, is very exciting.

Can you tell us about SPAN’s success story so far?
Over the years we have produced students who now own their companies and studios and they are quite successful. I have done a whole lot of documentary during our 10th anniversary last year that tell the full success story of SPAN over the years. SPAN has over seven dance studios operating at the moment and over 32 teachers that teach in schools, studios and at other places in which they are required. Every one who has graduated from SPAN has a job and they cannot go hungry because they can survive anywhere.