“Read our movements like you’re reading a book”: We chat to dance and directing duo, the Ebinum Brothers
Growing up in Nigeria paved a tricky path for this dancing brotherhood, formed of Victory and Marvel Ebinum. We chat to the duo to hear more about their journey.
- 29 July 2020
- Ayla Angelos
There’s nothing quite like a brotherly bond, especially when the familial qualities are transferred into an outlet filled with creativity. For brothers Victory (21) and Marvel Ebinum (18), they are doing just that. Two choreographers, directors and performers born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, they work together to creative distinctively wonderful films, ideated and produced with emotion, balance and harmony.
“Our works are based on storytelling, about life,” Victory tells It’s Nice That. “Our works are also created for the purpose of inspiring and changing minds.” Inspiring by all means, the duo have recently released two new films – one titled Brother’s Keeper, the other First To Build a Home, which was featured on Nowness and was created as part of a collaboration program with Art Elsewhere London and Are Projects called Deconstruction: Art and Ecology. “We also named it Togetherness because that’s what we wanted to communicate to people, speaking about how nature brings us together.” Opening with flowing water and soft movements, the sequence is backed by The Cinematic Orchestra’s To Build A Home – an apt choice of music considering the synchronic dance of the brothers amongst their surroundings.
Observing the film is like being immersed in a divine narrative of nature. Even its name, To Build A Home, connotes feelings of connectivity and you're instantly fixated on the idea of being surrounded by the persons that are closest to you – or with the natural environment. Marvel and Victory’s movements are impactful and abrupt, while strong punchy flushes are paired with the slower, beguiling and in some cases painfully emotive ones. Movement after movement, you’re transfixed on every position and act of dance. Then they embrace, they drop and raise to the surface once again, before slowly and carefully stepping out of the frame to end the sequence. “We want our audience to always be inspired and feel our emotions,” explains Victory. “We want them to be able to read our movements like they’re reading a book.”
With such powerful choreography that beckons with storytelling to the finest degree, it’s important to note that their journey to where they are today wasn’t all that simple. Growing up in Nigeria, the brothers have expressed the difficulties that they experienced – that being the lack of available resources and acceptance of a more Western style of dance. “We didn’t know we would get into this field of dance at first, because we didn’t know that through dancing we could communicate to people with just movements because we hadn’t found ourselves then,” says Marvel. He adds: “We are where we are today because of God, we always thank God for our talents where he is taking us to, and we have always stayed focused. We always told ourselves that we were the best in the world and always kept a positive and healthy mind, even while we were training everyday without a good space or sound; we never let that weigh us down.”
This difficulty rested on the fact that they physically didn’t have anywhere to learn or train, nor any good teachers in the field. “They always thought we were wasting our time trying to inspire people,” continues Marvel. “Also, dancing this way – with the reigning dance being Afro dance – no one gave a shit about what we were doing. Only our family and the few friends we had understood and always supported us.”
It’s only until recently that the Ebinum brothers have gained rightful recognition. These obstacles have of course created a tricky path to navigate but, with thanks to social platforms such as Instagram and the ultra-connected world that we live in, their work has been shared in abundance. “Seeing our growth was what changed,” adds Victory on the topic of how their work is now perceived. “Seeing that we are getting recognised all around the world, it pushed them to know what we did to get here and where we are heading to. It made them want to get close to us and learn from us.” With future plans bubbling away for their involvement with the dance community in Nigeria, there are some great things to come from this brotherly duo. “They are still in the box but all will be unlocked soon.”
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she became online editor in 2022 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.