Choreographer Bawren Tavaziva talks Sensual Africa
The dancer's new performance explores African tribal rituals with contemporary dance
Born in rural Zimbabwe, Bawren Tavaziva was well aware of the tribes living in his area. But having moved to bustling capital Harare at the age of four, he soon became more concerned with football, Michael Jackson and martial arts movies, before moving into dance as a teenager.
A resident in the UK since 1998, where he formed his own dance company following spells with Phoenix and Union Dance, Tavaziva recently made a pilgrimage back to Africa. But this time he went to Malawi, where the tribes he witnessed as a young boy originated, looking for inspiration for his new show, Sensual Africa.
‘I wanted to spend time with the Chewa people and Tumbuka tribe,’ he explains, ‘to see what their traditions are about. I was looking at the initiation ceremonies of boys and girls becoming men and women. The boys go to the bush for three weeks where they are beaten up like crazy, because to become a dancer in that tribe you have to be fierce. The women also go to the bush, but they learn about morals, how to take care of their husband and be good in bed.’
Many of the initiation ceremonies involve dance, and having learned about the rituals, Tavaziva came home inspired to create his own African/contemporary mix.
‘The style of their dancing really fascinates me, and the amazing energy they have,’ he says. ‘So I wanted to take that style and vibe and fuse it with my own understanding of dance, to create my version of these dances.’
Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Thu 16 Feb.