Premiering with Document, Romy Maxime’s film celebrates the Kenyan community’s affinity for movement, and its influence on Africa’s broader artistic landscape

“In dancing, you feel yourself,” says Crispel Mariga, one of several performers for Nairobi’s Choppers Dance Crew. The group—also counting David Avido, Bernard Chicharito, and Jeff Jide Otieno among its members—was recently featured in Spirit of Kibera, a short film directed by Romy Maxime and produced by Shelley McKenna, which illuminates the Kenyan neighborhood’s dance culture and broader artistic landscape.

Kibera is a shantytown, just a few miles out from Nairobi’s city center—a dynamic community, though notoriously stricken by poverty. The Choppers run dance workshops and competitions for neighborhood residents, with the hopes of starting a local academy someday. “As long as you’re doing something good in society, you live good with other people,” says Otieno. “[Dance allows kids] to be flexible, and it takes their souls away to another world.”

“As long as you’re doing something good in society, you live good with other people.”

Spirit of Kibera extends beyond the art of choreography, highlighting a handful of forms of expression: The film’s print-forward costuming was designed by Avido himself; its rhythmic soundtrack was devised by Floyd Lavine, then remixed by Pablo Fierro. “I wanted to create a fusion of African heritage and the future of electronic music,” says the former. “It’s important to celebrate its rich and diverse cultures. The song [‘Masala’] captures that spirit.”

Maxime’s film premiers with Document, available for viewing above. It’s a study on movement’s potential for communication that transcends language, capturing the vitality and the weight of the art of dance.

Director Romy Maxime. Production McKenna Wilde Productions. Editor Benitha Vlok. Talent David Avido, Bernard Chicharito, Jeff Jide Otieno, Crispel Mariga. Sound Editor Alexander Inggs. Colorist Kyle Stroebel.