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!

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