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Performance lecture | Yesterday must read today to bring tomorrow | Thomas Talawa Prestø

02/07/2023 @ 11:00 - 15:00

This Keti Koti 2023, with the commemoration and celebration of the abolition of slavery in the Netherlands, KITLV fellow & artistic director of Reframing HERstory Art Foundation, Farida Nabibaks, and KITLV researcher Esther Captain would like to invite you to the lecture demonstration Yesterday must reach today to bring tomorrow with participatory elements on acknowledgement, commemoration and healing through embodied knowledge and especially Black dancing bodies.


It is our privilege to introduce to you Thomas Talawa Prestø, choreographer, dancer and researcher from Norway, and of Caribbean descent, who will enlighten us with his knowledge on the topic of decolonization through our bodies, through Black dancing bodies.


11.00 AM – 13.00 PM: Performance lecture Yesterday must reach today to bring tomorrow
13.00 PM – 15.00 PM: Informal lunch and Meet & greet with artists.

Performance lecture by Thomas Tawala Prestø

Yesterday must reach today to bring tomorrow

Join us for an engaging and thought-provoking performance lecture titled Yesterday must reach today to bring tomorrow. Led by acclaimed dance artist and researcher Thomas Talawa Prestø, this lecture explores the decolonial potential and the artistic and humanist value of ancestral practices in contemporary settings. By delving into the embodied knowledge and countering epistemicide, we uncover the profound wisdom and transformative power of Africana praxis.

During the lecture, Prestø, accompanied by two master dancers, Wolman Michelle Luciano & Joel Ramirez, will demonstrate the embodiment of personality, identity, and the projection of personhood and worth through polycentric dance and polyrhythmic praxis. By introducing new terminologies and concepts, this presentation aims to foster a deeper discourse on the knowledge that Africana praxis can bring to the broader arts field.

Through a dynamic blend of video, audio, poetry, and dance, Yesterday must reach today to bring tomorrow creates a multi-dimensional and immersive experience. Attendees may have the opportunity to actively participate in some of the practices and technical exercises, enhancing their understanding and engagement with the material.

Don’t miss this enlightening lecture demonstration that challenges preconceived notions, ignites critical thinking, and invites us to embrace the rich heritage of ancestral practices in shaping the future of artistic expression!

Speakers & performers

Thomas Talawa Prestø
Thomas Talawa Prestø is a renowned dance artist, researcher, and the founder of Tabanka Dance Ensemble. With over 25 years of experience in the dance industry, Prestø is dedicated to promoting inclusive and diverse approaches to dance and performance. He has made significant contributions through his creation of the Talawa Technique, a unique and comprehensive approach to African and Caribbean dance. As a research fellow at Østfold University College, Prestø is also set to become one of Scandinavia’s first PhD candidates focusing on decolonial dance and performance practices. His scholarly pursuits critically analyze the adaptation of Africana ritual dance praxis into stage productions, addressing issues of cultural arrogation, globalization, and the ethical utilization of deep cultural heritage. Through his artistic and academic endeavors, Prestø aims to deepen our understanding of the intricate interplay between African cultural expressions, their commodification, and the ethical considerations surrounding their appropriation.

At the core of Prestø’s work is his exploration of the Talawa Technique. This comprehensive movement approach draws from African and Caribbean practices, offering dancers a unique opportunity to engage with the rich heritage and aesthetics of these traditions. Through the Talawa Technique, dancers learn to embody poly-centrism, multiple movement qualities, grounding, and poly-rhythm. The technique deconstructs and reconstructs these practices, revealing the potential achieved when elements are intentionally recombined. By codifying and sharing this technique, Prestø empowers dancers to connect with their ancestral roots while creating highly kinetic contemporary work that transcends the confines of the Western canon of art production.

Wolman Michelle Luciano
Wolman Michelle Luciano is the head of technique, producer of events, principal dancer and soloist at the Tabanka Dance Ensemble. 

Joel Ramirez
Joel Ramirez is the rehearsel director, assistant choreographer, principal dancer and soloist at the Tabanka Dance Ensemble.

Farida Nabibaks
Farida Nabibaks is founder and artistic director of music and dance-theatre company Reframing HERstory Art Foundation based in Arnhem and fellow at KITLV. Farida uses dance and embodied knowledge to address the collective trauma of the colonial and slavery past, with the ultimate goal of healing. She studied Philosophy at the Radboud University Nijmegen and holds a MA in Philosophy of Behavioural Sciences. She was also co-researcher in the Radboud Institute for Culture and History (RICH) research project ‘Feeling the Traces of the Colonial Past’, led by professor Liedeke Plate. 

Esther Captain
Esther Captain is a senior researcher at KITLV where she is currently developing a new research line on postcolonial Netherlands, with links to Indonesia and the Caribbean. She is also a researcher in the research programme ‘Independence, Decolonization, Violence and War in Indonesia, 1945-1950’, a joint research programme of the KITLV) the Netherlands Institute of Military History (NIMH) and the NIOD, Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies.


Theater Ins Blau | Haagweg 6 | 2311 AA Leiden


Please register if you wish to attend this performance lecture: [email protected].


Photo credits: Danseinformasjonen.

Interested in more performances?

At the same day there will be another performance & workshop in the evening, produced by Reframing HERstory Art Foundation – Farida Nabibaks: Louise, Radiant Shadow, part 3. This event will also take place in Theater Ins Blau, 2 July, 20.00 h-22.00 h. 

Ticket sale by Theater Ins Blau. Free entrance for students and employees of KITLV. Please contact [email protected] and ask for the code.


11:00 - 15:00
Event Category:


Reframing HERstory Art Foundation & KITLV


Theater Ins Blau
Leiden, + Google Map