VIDEO: “The Sunset” dancers, a little late

Last summer, stemming from a nearly random series of events radiating from the International Women’s Day Fashion Show in Portland, I had the good fortune to meet Steve Rukongi. He was directing a play he’d written in French (one of his native languages) and translated into English. It was called “The Sunset.” It was about the history leading up to, and including, the Rwandan genocide, told through the eyes of a photographer. The stark realities of the historical content was punctured with haunting, frenzied traditional Rwandan dancing. It was an almost overwhelming mix of pathos and energetic joy.

He was kind enough to let me hang around his rehearsals at Portland Stage and take pictures. I had visions of do an in-depth project on some of his dancers and how they mixed their various central African cultures in with their lives here in Portland.

Unfortunately, the summer got away from me and I never got any further with the project. But I’ve been using these pictures as screen savers for a year. I really like them.

Then, I tapped Steve to be part of our recent BDN digital project called “Portland at a Crossroads.” He graciously agreed to be a part of our story and I was able to sneak a few of these pictures into the short video about him. I was still left with quite a few shots I thought should be seen.

So, here they are, with my sincerest thanks to Steve and the dancers.

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Steve Rukongi (right) directs Salua Umuhoza in his play "The Sunset" last summer at Portland Stage.

Steve Rukongi (right) directs Salua Umuhoza in his play “The Sunset” last summer at Portland Stage.

Troy R. Bennett

About Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.