Saturday, 18 February 2017

INTERVIEW: Bawren Tavaziva on Africarmen

This week I met Bawren Tavaziva, Artistic Director and founder of Tavaziva dance company, to discuss the company's latest work Africarmen, Bawren's interpretation of the classic Carmen story. 

Tavaziva have become the new neighbours of bbodance, after their recent office move to South West London. With the company rehearsing in the studios at bbodance, it was the perfect opportunity to sit down with Bawren and discuss his ambitions and inspirations.

Maya Pindar: tell us a bit about yourself

Bawren Tavaziva: I am originally from Zimbabwe. Since I was 8, my ambition was to have my own dance company. I worked with Tumbuka Dance Company in Zimbabwe, where I danced for about 4 or 5 years. I was inspired by Tumbuka's director, Neville Campbell, who is also the former director of Phoenix Dance Company. He was an amazing choreographer! It was him who inspired me to join Phoenix. 

I sold everything that I had back home, and bought myself a ticket to England. I auditioned for Phoenix, but didn't get the job. I wasn't strong enough technically. So I started working with other smaller companies, and kept going back to audition. And then under the direction of Thea Barnes, I got the job at Phoenix! From there, I danced with Phoenix for just under two years.

Bawren Tavaziva, PC: DILLONROSE

MP: what challenges were you faced with when you left Zimbabwe to pursue your dance career in the UK?

BT: the challenge was visas. I was on a holiday maker visa, so you were only allowed to work in restaurants and pubs- you weren't allowed to pursue your career. So that was a very difficult time for about two years for me. 

MP: can you tell us one interesting fact about you?

BT: one interesting fact about me? My ambition! I didn't realise that for some people it's very difficult to find or follow ambition. But I already had my ambition so I didn't have to work hard to find it or follow it. 

MP: what inspires you to recreate Carmen?

TB: my inspiration came from watching Swedish choreographer Mats Ek's version of Carmen. That sparked something for me- I loved the idea of creating my own African version. The percussion and energy had a lot in common to African (or specifically Zimbabwean) culture.

MP: can you tell us a bit about your choreographic process?

BT: I always create my work with something that I really feel. I tend to bring out the truth about the work. I can't just create work for the sake of it. It has to have feeling, I want my audience to feel a certain way. It is usually based on stories, but it's abstract.

Africarmen, PC: Manoj Nair

MP: what have you enjoyed the most about working on Africarmen?

BT: it was a challenge! I have approached it very differently this time. For instance, usually I compose my own music, but this time we are collaborating with different artists and musicians. So it's been so much fun. I'm also working with Neville Campbell, who is helping take my choreography further and make it clearer. 

MP: to wrap up, what piece of advice would you give 15 year old Bawren?

BT: work hard, get to work on time, get to school on time. Discipline yourself. Try to have your own self motivation. It's hard to always be motivated by someone else all the time. Get to the studio, and use it.

Africarmen begins it's spring tour in March. For full dates and detail visit Tavaziva's website.
Stay tuned for a full review of Africarmen at the end of March!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

REVIEW: Dillon Dance returns to Resolution! 2017 with We Stand Alone Together

Sat 4 Feb
The Place
Dillon Dance - We Stand Alone Together

It's not often that a work of dance hits the spot as well as Dillon Dance's We Stand Alone Together. With its dark staging, percussive score and rich choreography, We Stand Alone Together thrusts us into the depths of a personal struggle. 

The work begins carefully, with dancer Charlotte Hannah stepping out of the silent darkness. She stares forward, her hands and arms trembling, motioning as if trying to wrench at her stomach. All the while there's a sense of intimate self awareness. From the outset, choreographer Shaun Dillon's exploration of darkness, desperation and loneliness is striking.

Dancer Emily Robinson in rehearsal with Dillon Dance, PC: Alice Underwood Films

From here, composer Jennifer Whittaker's percussive score swells and rumbles. The group of women sweep across the space, their bodies throbbing and wavering. These sumptuous moments of unison are punctured as a dancer falls out of line. Dancer Emily Robinson finds herself suddenly alone, she lingers on a thought and then throws herself back into movement. She tries and tries again, there's a familiar sense of relentless desperation.  

Dancer Charlotte Hannah in rehearsal with Dillon Dance, PC: Alice Underwood Films

Later, another dancer stumbles into the darkness. This time she truly is alone. The realisation hits- it's happening again- and she shatters into screams. While delving into the pain of individual struggle, Dillon simultaneously examines the strength of unity. A reassuring hand is placed on a shoulder and a lone dancer is swept up by the group. The dancers have army-like precision in their use of unison. There is no doubt that they have strength in their unity.

Dillon expertly builds up tension alongside Whittaker's unyielding score. There is a real feeling of agitation and restlessness that seems to stem from a deep-seated sense of frustration. The tension erupts as the group dive into a full bodied sequence, which throws them through the floor and across the space, peeling off into canon and then slipping back into the group. 

Dillon Dance in rehearsal, PC: Alice Underwood Films

Dillon's choreography is bold and uncompromising. Every decision appears carefully considered, a testament to Dillon's attention to detail. Above all, honesty shines through the choreography. There are no clichés, nothing is skimmed over, and no loose ends are left hanging. Dillon is definitely a choreographer to keep watching in the future.

Interested in Shaun Dillon's work? Check out Shaun's interview with The Insanity in Dancing here.
Resolution! 2017 continues until 25 February at The Place, for more information visit: Maya wrote for Resolution! Review 2016, want to see last year's articles? Click here for more! 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

REVIEW: Resolution! 2017: Orley Quick & The Hairy Heroines, Mater-Filia, Sketch Dance Company

Tues 31 Jan
The Place
Orley Quick & The Hairy Heroines As We Like It
Mater-Filia Do not Go Gentle 
Sketch Dance Company Raised By Wolves

Orley Quick's As We Like It is sexy and witty. The all male trio dive from profound fury, to surprisingly sultry, to agonising and hilarious. Dancer Terell Foreshaw seduces the audience in his floor length gown, dropping to the floor in box splits. As We Like It is hilariously funny- I only wish the amusing conversations about trousers and tools lasted a little longer.

Following Quick's romp, Mater-Filia presents Do not Go Gentle, a mother-daughter exploration of mortality. Dripping sounds, a large hourglass and the sounds of ticking clocks point towards themes of life and mortality. Undulating spines and slippery floor work is matched with dancer Lauren Anthony's grounded and bold hip-hop technique. Overall, Do not Go Gently is intensified by the technical strength of both dancers. 

Dancer Jemima Brown in Raised By Wolves, Photo Credit: Yulia Antonov

Closing the evening of performance, Jasmine Andrews presents Raised by Wolves with Sketch Dance Company. With its clear narrative guided by an original score by Oliver Swain, Madeleine Blake and vocalist Sheree DuBois, Raised by Wolves plunges dancer Jemima Brown into a journey of self discovery. The ensemble sweep across the space, in a cascade of unfurling arms and gestural mime. Brown packs a rucksack and stumbles out of her cosy home in a frenzied search for identity. She reaches, rolls and runs as the forest seems to thicken. 

Amongst the bursts of red leaves and tangled arms, Brown emerges from the shadowy darkness to be met by a friend. The pair dart about the space playfully, swinging Brown's rucksack through their legs and over their heads. Andrew's fairytale choreography reminds us of the timeless and existential question of who we are. Where do we belong? And what is it that makes us us?

Dancers Jemima Brown & Joshua Scott in Raised By Wolves, Photo Credit: Yulia Antonov

Resolution! 2017 continues until 25 February at The Place, for more information visit:

Maya wrote for Resolution! Review 2016, want to see last year's articles? Click here for more!