n the process of dance heritage creation in contemporary Kenya, an essential and until now underestimated role is played by competitive festivals organized by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture. Due to their accessibility, visibility, recurrence and national distribution, these events facilitate the dissemination and the adaptation of a specific repertoire—that of cultural dances of Kenya. They build on old local customs and reveal continuity with the colonial era during which the repression of "native" dances led to a particular use of choreography and folklore. Inspired by several aesthetic systems, stage products in competitive festivals are directed by elaborated evaluation criteria, which over the years have been exported outside of that context. This article attests to a circulation of actors and products, as well as a circulation of heritage categories and corporalities. It aims at understanding the effect competitive festivals have on the institutionalization of dances in Kenya, but also on the modes of their existence.
According to my analysis of isukuti dance, as an illustrative example of BoK choreographic products, two key factors affect the staging processes: the first concerns the inherent qualities of the dance tradition itself, whereas the second depends on the choices and capacities of the person (or people) in charge of the staging process. The prerequisite for establishing a specific choreographic choice is a certain degree of professional expertise and an ability to mobilise various staging techniques in order to translate or implement that choice.