26 October 2020 10:51

Get to know… Bawren Tavaziva

Bawren Tavaziva grew up in a rural village near Masvingo in Zimbabwe. At the age of 12, Bawren Tavaziva attended an outreach ballet project with the National Ballet of Zimbabwe at his local community centre.

The RAD, Tavaziva and Caius House Youth Centre in Battersea partnered on the Journeying Between project. Tavaziva worked with a group of young people who explored dance and music-making with industry professionals.

From day one, his determination and talent led him to a life-long passion for dance. Bawren formed his own company and became Artistic Director of Tavaziva Dance and in the same year won a fellowship with Dance of the African Diaspora’s Trailblazer programme. He went on to produce further works for his own company.

What or who first inspired you to start dancing?

“Originally I am from Zimbabwe and in our culture, dance and music are our environment. 'New Addition', 'Michael Jackson' and 'The Nuclears' were my inspiration for wanting to be as famous as them.”

How would you describe your dance style?

My dance style is versatile, diverse and african-contemporary fusion, which has created its own stand-alone way of moving over time. The quality of the movement starts with a high technical demand from a dancer with also the ability to express emotion, african rhythms and body fluidity.

Where do you draw your biggest inspiration from?

“I draw my biggest inspiration from my roots, life experience growing up, and all this includes the biggest elements. For example; politics, religion, livity.”

The RAD partnered with you on the Journeying Between project, working with young people to explore dance and music-making. What was the most rewarding thing about this experience?

“It was such an amazing project, it brought me back to when I was younger at my own community centre in Zimbabwe, it brought back my childhood. The experience was special to be giving back the education I had, inspiring the next generation of young people.”

The extraordinary impact of the Black Lives Matter movement encouraged reflection on the worlds we inhabit. What has this year meant to you?

“In terms of Black Lives Matter, 2020 it is time to make a change within the system we live in and it is about time to upgrade the law. We live in the ancient law that's been degrading, served injustice, corruption, hate and mass murders. For me as a black Artistic Director and Choreographer, I have struggled even in my own art. For me as Bawren Tavaziva, I was socially isolated from the day I was born. There have always been people fighting against this regime and I realised growing up, I am fighting against this system. Never was I afraid of saying exactly what I think, never shall I be afraid.

Now the whole world is holding hands to fight against the killings, discrimination and hatred of black people, my voice is going to be even more heard in the new productions within my understanding that the education curriculum should speak about black history.”

What do you hope for the next generation of dancers, teachers, artists and leaders?

“Equal opportunities, whatever race, colour or creed. Being observant is a key to what you are dealing with in front of you. Peace, no more war, charging for love.”

What’s next for you?

“To think beyond my own imagination, to never be restricted and imprisoned. To believe in myself and to love the image of what you see when you see me. Create work of purpose and the authentic reason for it to exist. Move on forward to change the world through dance, music, collaboration and see Tavaziva Dance grow to the fullest of my imagination.”

Tavaziva has produced a Black Dance Archives Learning Resource that documents Bawren Tavaziva’s dance career and includes interviews with Bawren and workshop examples.

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