The Dance Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ) is the heart of Zimbabwe’s dance community. Located close to the city centre in Belgravia in the National Ballet premises (next to Reps Theatre), DTZ has emerged as an innovative leader of dance training in the region. Dancers who have trained with or performed at the DTZ have typically travelled and given performances all over the world and at prestigious events such as HIFA (Harare International Festival of the Arts) and the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in South Africa.
The DTZ comprises four different arms: the National Ballet, the Dance Foundation Course (DFC), Tumbuka Contemporary Dance Company and the DTZ Outreach Programme. All four inter-connected elements operate at the National Ballet studios and collaborate to provide the best dance training available in the country.
An important part of DTZ is the Dance Foundation Course (DFC), a rigorous international-level dance training course for aspiring dancers. DFC is a ground-breaking, three-year training programme that auditions dance hopefuls who have completed their O’ Levels. Through a process which is a combination of recommendations and auditions approximately fourteen dancers are selected to undergo dance training with DFC. The DFC dance trainees largely hail from Harare’s high-density areas but anyone with a passion for dance is welcome to audition.
The course focuses on African traditional and contemporary dance styles and choreography. It was founded in 1990 with the goal to become a programme of excellence for dance in Southern Africa. This initiative is an important part of the National Ballet studio space diversification into other forms of dance, including: Jazz, Modern, Contemporary, African-traditional, Indian dance, Tap, Ballroom and Capoeira in addition to ballet.
The DFC Course is overseen by its Coordinator and Artistic Director, Soukaina Marie-Laure Edom. Coming from an extensive dance training background, Edom became a part of the DFC in 1997 and has been instrumental in steering the DFC to becoming not only the premier dance training programme in Zimbabwe, but in terms of its curriculum diversity and rigor, arguably one of the most complete and valuable dance training certificates – comparable to those found in Europe and the USA where far more resources are invested in dance programmes.
The DFC Course is overseen and taught by Edom along with former DFC graduates and former members of dance company Tumbuka, as well as guest teachers when the opportunity arises. Once selected, the DFC dancers begin their training at the National Ballet. Each day, the dancers gather and rehearse in one of two dance studios, taking breaks in between physical dance training and choreography instruction for classes on dance theory, anatomy, voice lessons, drama, yoga, tai chi and other practical lessons.
Classes taught at DFC are complemented by either recorded music or live instruments, including traditional drumming. For many, it is their first opportunity to engage in training with professionals.
The DFC is funded in large part by Africalia. The DFC tuition fee is out of the reach of most Zimbabwean students and through Africalia many students receive a scholarship that covers their tuition and transport fees. At the end of each year the DFC puts on an end-of-year show showcasing what they have learnt that year. The current crop have just finished their second year and their end of year performance – held at Prince Edward School this past August – was a delightful display of extraordinary talent.