Biography

After training as an acrobat and dancer, Qudus Onikeku is now one of the top choreographers of his generation. Born in Lagos in 1984, he met Heddy Maalem there in 2003 and joined his company in Toulouse. Admitted to France’s national centre for circus arts (CNAC) in Châlons-en-Champagne, he graduated in 2009 and set up his own company, YK Projects, the same year, in Paris. His first creations, My Exile is in my Head (2010), Still/Life (2012) and Qaddish (2013), won international recognition and were performed at prestigious festivals such as the Venice Biennale, the Avignon Festival and Roma Europa. After a decade in France, he returned to Lagos in 2014, where he opened The QDance Center, a place for training and nurturing talent, which has become a pillar of the dance world in Nigeria. Between 2015 and 2018, he created four shows and opened a dance lab space for multi-disciplinary events. Through the years, he has developed a wide-ranging artistic project, consistently and respectfully underpinned by all aspects of Yoruba culture. He continues to make new work with his company, from solos to large group pieces, and frequently collaborates with other disciplines: visual artists, architects, musicians and writers. In 2017, he created a video installation, Right Here, Right Now, for the first-ever Nigerian pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In 2018, in Germany, he created Yuropa, which is currently touring. In June 2019, he began preparing a new solo, Spirit Child, at the MC93 cultural centre in the Paris region, while also working on a collective and multi-disciplinary piece, Re:Incarnation, for the Lyon Dance Biennale. Onikeku is also a frequent guest lecturer at Columbia College Chicago and at the University of California at Davis. He is currently associate artist in residence at the Center for Arts, Migration and Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida, until 2022.