Tavaziva, renowned contemporary-african dance company, celebrates 15 years

Bawren Tavaziva. Credit Alfred George Bailey

Tavaziva is one of the UK’s leading professional, contemporary-African dance companies, led by Zimbabwean-born Artistic Director, Choreographer and Music Producer Bawren Tavaziva who established the company in 2004. Now a national touring company, supported by Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation, Bawren Tavaziva has reached audiences in every corner of the UK.

“Looking back over the last 15 years, it’s amazing to take stock of all that we have achieved. Thousands of people have come in to contact with our work through performances, workshops, projects and commissions. I’m excited for BOY’S KHAYA and using technology to create a new experience for our audiences. I’m looking forward to what the next 15 years has in store!” Bawren Tavaziva

In Tavaziva’s 15th year, the company will embark on the creation of its new production BOY’S KHAYAfeaturing seven exceptional dancers. With his distinctive African style that is highly original, inventive and thrilling to watch, this new work includes cutting-edge digital design and motion-capture technology, adding to the striking visual staging of BOY’S KHAYA.

The show will premiere and tour in spring 2020 and will be accompanied by an education and participation programme of workshops, masterclasses, residencies and talks. 

Bawren Tavaziva reflects on past 15 years

Bawren Tavaziva. Photo Credit Alfred George Bailey
Bawren Tavaziva. Photo Credit Alfred George Bailey

I’m so proud of where Tavaziva has come in 15 years…

We are a company that approaches productions by thinking big and we don’t believe in being restricted by resources, for example, the quality of the dancers that we work with are worth more than gold, the productions are worth more than any money in the world. As a choreographer, I am surrounded by very creative people and a fantastic production team, and they put their hearts into the work, which is priceless. We are ready to push on forward to create more amazing work.

My biggest achievements…

Over the last 15 years, it has been amazing to see the dancers that I have worked with develop as artists and move on to be really successful. When they leave Tavaziva they go on to work with really big, successful companies and it feels great that I inspired them, and they have developed through my classes and creativity – it makes me really happy.

In that time, I have also achieved a huge body of work. I can see myself staging some of those works over the next 15 years, but I’m still young and will create more! Looking back, I started to really develop as an artist when I created my full-length works. Both Greed and Izindava stand out to me as my strongest pieces. The skill of putting the works together and the choice of dancers I selected made them very powerful productions. I always wanted to create a company that I would have auditioned for myself.

From the very start of my career, I have created the music to accompany my productions, except for Africarmen which was composed by Fayyaz Virji. I have developed my music-making skills and grown as an engineer because I do my own mixes, play my own instruments and I am mastering music production, which has all been self-taught.

Over the years I have been influenced by…

I am inspired by Choreographers such as Neville Campbell, Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe, Christopher Bruce and Alvin Ailey. I love the way they structure their work and how creative they are as individuals – they create very powerful work.

In terms of music collaboration, I wish that I’d been able to collaborate with Zimbabwean musician Oliver Mtukudzi who is a huge cultural figure, but unfortunately he passed away this year. ForBOY’S KHAYA, my next new work ,I’m collaborating on one of the tracks with Willom Tight who is a great artist and legend in Zimbabwe – he has just done a collaboration with Salif Keita, which I loved. Willom and I grew up together and we were in a band when I was 12 years old. We toured together and I was the lead singer and played percussion. Everyone in Africa plays percussion, we always had drums around and we all played for each other as we danced. People in the UK are always so surprised that I dance and play, yet it’s so normal back home.

My ambitions for the future…

I would like to have a Tavaziva Dance Studio, which would be a home for the company. Within that building, we would have a dance school.

I’d love to tour internationally and offer more security to our dancers and give them longer contracts. I’ve always wanted to showcase African art and so I would like to continue highlighting how creative African’s are and really put African dance on the map. I’d like to collaborate with more with African artists and musicians – and to tour Africa!

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