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23 September 2019
The Dancer Thieves on Al Jazeera Witness

Aguibou Boungabali Sanou is on a mission to share his love of dance with an unexpected group of students - the inmates of Bobo Dioulasso prison in Burkina Faso. Through dance, Aguibou aims to give the prisoners something that is in short supply in their overcrowded cells: hope. 


Aguibou teaches his students new ways to express themselves and hopes that by investing in them as people, and offering a new path towards the arts, he will be able to stop them from re-offending and re-entering the prison walls. 


After months of training, Aguibou believes his students are ready to perform a choreographed piece to an audience. He wants this to be done outside of the prison walls to showcase his work to the local community and prove the trust he has for his troupe. But with many of the dancing prisoners being incarcerated for serious crimes, those closest to Aguibou counsel him against such a radical idea. 


As performance day encroaches, many concerns fill Aguibou’s mind: Will the prisoners try to escape? Will the guards provide the security? How will the community respond to seeing criminals dancing? Was he right to place his trust in criminals? 


Director: Lali Houghton

Producer: Dan Boaden

Executive Producer: Hugh Hartford

Editor: Ladan Anoushfar

Assistant Producer: Sam Steele


Al Jazeera Witness Commissioning Editor: Reem Haddad 

Al Jazeera Witness Executive Producer: Fiona Lawson-Baker

Al Jazeera Witness Production Support: Maria Costea