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Recording: 2022-01-19 , Sophiensæle (Video © Bickmann & Kolde GbR)

Robert Ssempijja

You Judge

Tanztage Berlin | Sophiensæle

Production Details / Press Releases

Robert Ssempijja starts his solo with a story about the community in Kampala, Uganda, where he grew up and tells of the expectations of its members towards him. Every society tends to be particularly judgmental and close-minded towards those who step out of line. We are all constantly searching for our place in the world: we try to adapt, to understand our different roles and we struggle for acceptance. In a catwalk setup, dancer and choreographer Robert Ssempijja demonstrates the body’s ability to challenge social norms – and thus reveals the dance’s inherent potential for emancipation. At the same time, the piece contributes to distorting, disrupting and expanding the limits imposed by the disciplining gaze of others.

My mum who also happens to be my father inspires me a lot. However, there has been a struggle within me for the longest time and it manifests itself in my relationship with her. She is very much bound by the traditions, norms and unwritten laws of her society and community. She will do what is seemingly right in everyday life to make sure not to draw any ill wishes or social punishments over herself and her children.

She extends that effort to the rest of her family. She makes sure that we go to school, cut our hair and iron our shirts. God forbid we have holes in our jeans even if it is the latest fashion. She does all this because of love and a will to protect us. But it tends to extend further on: How to think and act. How to always leave our problems behind closed doors and meet the outer world with a smile. No matter of the feeling inside.

Being from a younger generation, I applaud my mother for all her doing. She has not had an easy life and with all the pressure from the surrounding so- ciety, it can‘t have made it easier to raise two children with no means. I want to please my mother in all this. Maybe I can give some of all her efforts back. I could become a lawyer or doctor as the norm tells me I should strive for. But I don‘t want that. I want to keep my hair, wear my t-shirt and dance my doctor‘s career away. Can‘t my actions speak for themselves?

ROBERT SSEMPIJJA is a dance artist from Uganda. In his style he combines traditional dance with breakdance and contemporary dance techniques. His training includes techniques from Burkina Faso, and he is currently pursuing his dance diploma at the Ecolé des Sables in Senegal. Robert Ssempijja uses his dance knowledge for professional work, but is also an important protagonist of the growing contemporary dance scene in Uganda and founder of Dance Revolution East Africa. He works regularly with Christoph Winkler (Germany), Nora Chipaumire (New York/Simbabwe), Qudus Onikeku (Nigeria) and Patrick Acogny (France/Senegal).


Cast & Credits

MUSIC: Abdoul Mujyambere, Öz Kaveller
COSTUME: Karmelita Siwa
A production of Ssempijja Robert in co-production with SOPHIENSÆLE.
With the kind support of Company Christoph Winkler.

Tanztage Berlin 2022
CURATOR: Mateusz Szymanówka
DRAMATURGICAL SUPPORT: Maciej Sado, Maxi Wallenhorst
The 31st edition of Tanztage Berlin is a production of the SOPHIENSÆLE.
Funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe.
With the friendly support of Tanzfabrik Berlin e. V. and Theaterhaus Berlin Mitte.


Sophienstraße 18
10178 Berlin

Tickets: (030) 283 52 66

Video Documentation

The video documentation is produced on behalf of the Senate Department for Culture and Social Cohesion. The purpose of this contract is to document productions in the field of contemporary dance in Berlin. The master recordings are archived by the University Library of the Berlin University of Arts. Copies of the recordings on DVD are available for viewing exclusively in the reference collections of the following archives (at media desks in these institutions):

University Library of the Berlin University of Arts
Mediathek für Tanz und Theater des Internationalen Theaterinstituts / Mime Centrum Berlin
Inter-University Centre for Dance Berlin (HZT)

Robert Ssempijja / Trailers and Video Documentations

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