Friday, December 30, 2011

Tour of Light National Theater Performance

Children of Uganda’s Tour of Light music and dance troupe will be performing on Wednesday, January 4th 2012 from 2-4 p.m. at the National Theater in Kampala, Uganda.  This will be the troupe's final send-off show before departing their country and arriving in San Francisco, CA on January 8th to kick off their tour of the United States.  Our troupe members - children aged 10-18 - have been rehearsing fervently over the past month in preparation for the tour.  They cannot wait to share Uganda and East Africa's vibrant culture with American audiences.  Lucky for them and you, nobody has to wait much longer!
Stay tuned for a detailed 2012 Tour of Light schedule

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thank you to the SF dance community!

A group of professional dancers from Bay Area companies came together this fall to support Children of Uganda. They organized a great fundraiser at Fort Mason Center, which featured music, three pas de deux, and this new movie:

Two dancers write about their experiences: 

Courtney Elizabeth: As a dancer, I love what I do.  You will probably never meet a dancer who is not passionate about the art form.  However, there have been many times in the past when I’ve struggled with the practicality and meaningfulness of being a dancer. I mean, I could be digging wells in Africa, building homes and shelters in Japan, or feeding the homeless here in SF.
            A few months ago, I had never even heard of the organization Children of Uganda.  A friend just happened to say, “Did you hear about this group of children that are coming to the Bay Area?  Oh yeah—they’re orphans.  From Africa.”  I wanted to learn more, so I went online and I was able to watch videos of these young children learning traditional Ugandan dance and music. 
            I was moved, and I instantly wanted to get involved.  Several of us at the Ballet decided to work together to help in the best way we know how: by dancing.  We were inspired to use our talents to organize a benefit performance for the Children of Uganda.
            Seeing those kids dance with so much joy in the midst of brokenness and pain made me feel the power of making something beautiful, and it showed me that on some level, that’s what we’re doing here at SFB: creating beauty in the crazy ups and downs of life. Watching those kids was really important to me...who am I to say that it isn’t equally as important to everyone sitting in the audience?

            Frances Chung: For me, helping this organization was a no-brainer.  It’s always hard for me to decide who and how to help others, but I felt an instant kinship with COU because of dance.  With art, all language and cultural barriers fall away—there’s a universal connection.  And I think that’s why so many dancers have rallied around this cause.  Most dancers are passionate about helping others in different ways, but everyone feels a bond with this organization through their art.
            It’s been especially meaningful for me to get involved because I’m a strong believer in the healing qualities/properties of movement.  My college senior project was a study of how movement therapy helped and rehabilitated battered women, and so it was really beautiful to me find that these orphans were also being healed, rehabilitated, and educated through dance.
            As we have embarked on this enormous task of organizing a benefit performance, I have a whole newfound appreciation for everyone who works behind the scenes at SFB. There is SO much thought, creativity, planning, and hard work that goes into putting on just one show.  From marketing and publicity, to development and fundraising, to finding a venue and creating choreography, we have all learned so much, particularly the importance of delegating.  Over and over again, I’ve been impressed with how many people are willing to give of their time, resources, and talents for a worthy cause

THANK YOU to Courtney, Frances, and so many others who made the event such a success! We raised over $20,000 for Children of Uganda at this one event. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Finding New Purpose

As I write this, nearly two dozen of our brightest and most accomplished students are rehearsing for our long anticipated 2012 Tour of Light.  These children dedicate over a year of disciplined practice in East African music, drumming and dance. 

Among them is veteran performer Constance Naggayi who entered our program after losing both of her parents to AIDS.  At a very young age, Constance possessed a natural talent and was among the first children who traveled to the U.S. to promote Children of Uganda and raise awareness of the worldwide AIDS orphan crisis through cultural music and dance.

On that tour, Constance vividly recalls a performance at a school for the deaf.  She was so inspired by the sign language interpreter and how remarkable it was to see their message translated through simple hand movements.  In that moment, Constance felt a calling deep in her heart and pledged to find a way to help Uganda's more than 500,000 hearing impaired citizens.  She was only 12 years old.  Constance eventually went on to graduate from Ntinda School for the Deaf - crediting her success to the moving experience she had had as a tour performer.

Today, Constance has returned to help train the members of our newest dance troupe.  Thanks to her experience in the U.S. and the opportunities those travels provided her - she is thrilled to be giving back.  Her biggest hope for the children currently training is that they, too, will find their life's purpose as she did so many years ago.

The Tour of Light has always been and will continue to be an inspiration to our children, staff, and the fortunate audience members who witness first-hand the remarkable gifts of our music and dance troupe.  Please join us in bringing these remarkable young performers, each with their own inspirational story of grace and endurance, to stages across the U.S. 

written by COU's Executive Director, Pamela Brannon

Monday, September 26, 2011

San Francisco

We are so grateful to our friends planning for the tour in San Francisco, particularly a group of professional dancers from Bay Area dance companies that have come together to prepare and fundraise for the tour.

Courtney Elizabeth writes this about her experience on the SF Ballet blog:

A few of my colleagues and I decided to use our talents to help COU raise money to bring some of these children to perform in the U.S. As a dancer, I was really moved by their connection to the arts—sometimes, I struggle with wondering if I should be in a career that makes more of a difference in the world, but COU gave me a fresh perspective on the true purpose of dance.
When I saw  these kids dance with such joy in the midst of so much brokenness and pain, I was reminded that we do the same thing here at SFB: we create a little bit of beauty in the midst of the crazy ups and downs of life. 

Read more here.

Thanks so much, Courtney and all the rest of the dancers! Your support is tremendous.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Children of Uganda’s dance troupe performers are hard at work training, building their strength and endurance, learning new songs and dances, and of course - dreaming about what it will be like to dance on American stages. When asked about the anticipation, the children who have never toured before wonder what America will really look like. Are the buildings really that tall? Does everybody have their own car? Is everything just like the movies? There aren't poor people in America too, are there? 

Our staff, along with the lead performers who have been to the US before, will of course prepare the new children with stories, photos, and videos. What do you think we should tell them about America? What are the most important things to know before they get here? 

Looking forward~ COU tour team