“Saro will be a standard for any play of its kind in the future. It is distinctive because this time in Nigeria, we are using these different genres of arts on thread system. Every aspect is peaked whenever on stage.”-- Gbenga Yusuf, Dance Director for SARO
For the past two hours, I have watched you dance and give instructions…Yes. I am the dance director for SARO, The Musical;I am basically focused on body movement and stage direction, formation and adding to the duties of cast on stage... I help with bringing the music to life with body movement -- dances; creating beautiful movement on stage and so on. Aesthetics is very key in musicals and adding costumes with body movement with different formations add grace to the production. So, that is my primary function in this show.
What would be the impact of music and dance steps and formation in the overall beauty of the play?
Saro is a production that has the earnest theme of determination and this particular theme is expressed through the songs the audience would hear on that day; it is expressed through the words from the artists on stage, expressed through the kind of dances. Dance can be used for different purposes. This time around, we are using it to encourage the youths in the society to pursue that dream they believe in. We have people with gifts in different areas but are limited by the difficulties that surround them. Saro the musical would offer such people steel determination to break such barriers and realize their dream. You own it, turn it round and that gift will make ways for you. Going back to your question, we are using different kinds of dance and different genres of songs, these two aspects of art combine together to pass across the message of Saro, The Musical. They cannot be taken away.
If you look at musicals everywhere in the world, you can’t take away music, you can’t take away dance. And, instead of using drama hundred percent, you have only few places/scenes where people are talking, the remaining aspects are done through body movement and music. And in that way, people can reflect the scenes or areas we are trying to pass across instead of using words over and over again. They say, a picture is equivalent to a thousand words. So, music and dance are equivalent to a billion words. So, this can cover up for the importance of music and dance in this musical.
How is Saro-the musical different from what you have done in the past?
In the nearest future, Saro-the musical will be a standard in this country that people want to meet up. Why would I be so sure? When you look at the hands coming together to make this a reality, I have no doubt in any way that we are about to set a standard. We have a producer whose mind is very creative and ready to do the impossible. We have directors whose works in the past show they are ready to keep pushing the limits. The casts -- the actors, the dancers and musicians are the best in the country in their field.
Saro will be a standard for any play of its kind in the future. It is distinctive because this time in Nigeria, we are using these different genres of arts on thread system. Every aspect is peaked whenever on stage. It is something everybody wants to see. It is something you wouldn’t want to miss. Something you wouldn’t want to be told. By the grace of God, we will keep staging this play over and over again to give people the opportunity to experience the life-changing production that will push them to always push their limits. They say, ‘sky is the limit’… I don’t even have a limit. Rather, I see the sky as s starting point. For me, I can’t wait to bring this show out to the public. I can’t wait to create more movements as you have seen in the rehearsals today.
Any time we move, I always think of, ‘let’s get out of our comfort zones, let’s push ourselves’. This was what we did yesterday. Can we do more today? How can we wow the audience? How can we push the way they think? How do we break boundaries and barriers? This is what it is -- be it music, dance or dancer, this is what we are all saying… ‘let’s break barriers’. There is no limitation, except the one you create for yourself. We will keep talking because I am so passionate about this project.
Tell us about yourself and what you have been doing in the past two years.
My name is Gbenga Yusuf. I am the artistic director of Seeing Through the Arts Organization, an organization that creates awareness on social issues through the platform of the art. I use music as drama to create social awareness. Last year, one of my shows Patunga ran for eight times in August. Another one was staged at Eko Hotel & Suites, Lagos titled ‘Take Heart’ -- about heart disease.
If you had seen any of my shows you would better understand why I am taking part in Saro because I express myself through music, through dance and through drama. Over times, I have worked with certain organizations. On the child trafficking, I was endorsed by the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking Persons and other Related Offences in Nigeria. After creating this awareness, we gave a certain percentage of the proceeds to the charity, to these children. The Patunga story is a true life story. I interviewed the girl myself and incorporated the story into script, produced a big show that everybody kept saying was the best show they have seen in recent times.
My show that is staging at Terra Kulture this month, at the moment, the last reviews I got, people said, it was the best show they have seen at Theatre@Terra. I always want to push boundaries. I always want my today better than my yesterday. I keep doing what I love to do. I love dance, I use dance to pass across my message and I love music. I am a diehard fan of music if I can use that word.
You want to know what I have been doing in the past two years? I have been dancing and using songs to pass across social messages.
What kind of songs are we looking at in Saro?
SARO The musical is going to use songs that transcend through the times of this country. We have Afrobeats, Jazz, Contemporaries, Highlife, we have waltz, and we have Caribbean Salsa, we have Cha-cha, we have worship songs in the church… name it. We have everything in this production. When I say, everything, I am not exaggerating. We are touching every sphere of music that has come into this country, that has come to stay, that has passed through it and those yet to be heard. This project is huge and I am enjoying myself.
What would you say to people out there who are enthusiastic to watch this play when ready?
For everybody out there, I know you have seen different musicals in the country and those imported into the country. I am back to just say that this is entirely from Nigerians; by the youths of this country, and our leaders in the art industry. Please, come with an open mind because we are about to open everything out and take you to the next level. Thank you.