Senegalese dance group Diagn’ Art Dance Company performed Saturday night at Reps Theatre to rapturous applause. This was the final performance of an international tour that included South Africa, Reunion Island, Senegal, The Netherlands and France.
The evening opened with a piece entitled “A Measure of Faith” from local contemporary dance group Tumbuka, choreographed by Tumbuka dancer McIntosh Jerahuni. This piece (a work in progress) was conceived and rehearsed over two weeks. Jerahuni says his inspiration for the piece was his philosophy that, “Success comes to those who see the beauty of their dreams. If you don’t dream, it’s difficult to see the light.”
The piece which contrasted white trousers and black criss-cross bands on the torsos of the males, and short, brown and beige billowing ensembles on the women, featured dancers Maylene Chenjerai, Macdonald Julius, Peter Lenso, Stanley Wassili and Chido Mukundwa. An edgy piece and some of the most exciting new work produced by Tumbuka in years, this is the third dance piece choreographed by rising star Jerahuni.
Then it was onto the Senegalese performers. The Diagn’ Art Dance Company presented two avant garde pieces, the first starred company founder, choreographer and dancer Alioune Diagne. Entitled “This Line is My Path”, the solo piece explored through dance the difficulties of being an artist in Senegal. Diagne is a superb dancer, and was mesmerizing to watch. It was an unusual presentation, as the piece began and continued for the first ten minutes without sound, featuring only movement.
Their second piece was entitled “Banlieu”, meaning ‘the suburbs’ in French. This dance show cleverly blended traditional African dance with contemporary dance. The dance and its expressions were inspired by the childhood of Diagne, who grew up on the outskirts of a Senegalese city. The piece featured Diagne, Seydou Camara and Madiba Badio – all extraordinary dancers, who literally and evocatively expressed a time and place that seemed exotic (through the French song sung at the beginning, and the French phrases uttered throughout) to familiar, expressing the class divide that African cities struggle with everywhere. It was a striking piece of work – if a little too long – which can be applauded for its scope and breath of themes and ideas.
Although dance enthusiasts from all over Harare were excited to see the international Diagn’ Art Dance Company, it was Tumbuka who managed to receive the most positive response from audience members. It was good to see Tumbuka present the work of rising star Jerahuni. Overall it was a delightful evening of the best of international and Zimbabwean contemporary dance.