Dances with hope and vision

BY TINS MAGABA
'Dance is alive!'
Tumbuka dancer, Brian Geza decided to take his dancing shoes to the dusty streets of Mbare to inspire other township youths with nothing else to do but sit on footbridges, either smoking weed or bullying passing girls. The year was 2002. His dream is bearing fr

uit, fours years later, in the name of Zvishamiso Arts.
The all youth community dance company comprises 12 members (11 men and one woman!) from the famous high-density suburb of Mbare, the progenitorial home of Zimbabwe’s most celebrated artistic ambassadors. Geza explained the power that fuelled him to share his dance experience with others. “As a youth who has my ghetto at heart, I realised that in order to curb crime and other socio-related problems, the only way I could contribute to my community’s development was to share my skills in dance, music and theatre with my under-privileged peers in Mbare.”
When Zvishamiso got an opportunity to première at HIFA, little did they know that the world was finally going to take notice of their sheer determination and artistic brilliance. They gave a stunning performance their ambitious and well-choreographed project, HOPE, at the 7 Arts Theatre in Avondale, far from their beloved Mai Musodzi Hall in Mbare, and received a 5-minute standing ovation.
HOPE is an imaginative, innovative, provocative, experimental and highly dramatic piece that fuses dance with other art forms such as visual arts, the spoken word and mbira music. In this wonderful creation, Zvishamiso Arts worked with various seasoned artists like world-renowned dancer Soukaina Edom, video artist Rodrick Chakaipa, poet Sam Munro, songstress Chiwoniso Maraire and visual artist Chikonzero Chazunguza.
The production has four pieces: Patriotism a duet by Carlton Zhamelo and Stanley Wasili, Tsunami, Bread and Roses and the main piece Troubles, which highlights the contemporary problems bedeviling Zimbabwe today. If one doubted dance as a powerful media of messaging social reality, after watching Zvishamiso Arts, there are bound to be many repentant doubting Thomases.
The overall thematic focus of HOPE is on the hardships, the suffering and the hunger facing ordinary Zimbabweans. Though the situation looks bleak, HOPE infuses, in a doomed people, a little bit of optimism and cheerfulness. “The light is within us and we will definitely conquer. And in whatever prison we live, we’re free to break out,” said Geza.
Zvishamiso has received overwhelming responses from diverse audiences. Renowned novelist and filmmaker, Tsitsi Dangarembga fervently describes the project as, “an impressive combination of passion, discipline and skill, showing that the efforts of those who have invested in the local dance sector are now coming to maturity. Zvishamiso Arts narrate in a compelling way, and with laudable artistic integrity, issues of relevance to Zimbabwe and the world.”
Zvishamiso performed at the Harare International School on June 1 and 2. They are also set to perform in eight other communities in Greater Harare, and thereafter visit Bulawayo where they will make performances with various groups at Amakhosi Theatre.

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