DANCE ORIGIN:Zimbabwe GENRE: Traditional ARTISTIC
DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER:Julia Tsitsi Chigamba First Appearance in
SF EDF: 2002 Website: www.chinyakare.com
Chinyakare Ensemble presents authentic Zimbabwean music and dance, and merges powerful traditional art forms with innovative movement and soulful form. Native Zimbabwean artist, dancer, and choreographer Julia Tsitsi Chigamba founded Tawanda MuChinyakare (“We Are in the Deep Traditions of Our Ancestors”) in 2000. The group welcomes all who seek healing and spiritual experience through dance and music.
2012 DANCERS: Ella Allard-Chigamba, Gerald Basa, Julia Tsitsi Chigamba, Kanukai
Chigamba, Baindu Conté-Coomber, Ronnie Daliyo, Abby Fritz, Delisa Nealy,
Marsha Treadwell 2012 MUSICIANS: Augusten Basa (drums, marimba), Cathy Crystal
(hosho), Moeketse Boke Gibe (drums), Mohamed Lamine (marimba), Tom
Melkonian (marimba), Melissa Cara Rigoli (hosho), Glenn Wilson
2011 DANCERS: Augusten Basa, Gerald Basa, Julia Tsitsi Chigamba, Kanukai Chigamba, Casey Daliyo, Ronnie Daliyo, Delisa Nealy, Marsha Treadwell 2011 MUSICIANS: Duncan Allard (marimba), Russell Landers (marimba), Hector Lugo (drums), Kelly Takunda, Orphan Martinez (drums), Tom Melkonian (marimba), Sara Noll (hosho)
Chinyakare Ensemble presents Mbakumba, a harvest celebration from the Karanga subgroup of the Shona people, who originate from the Masvingo Province in southeastern Zimbabwe. The choreography uses playful theater to tell an ancient story, a sort of AA meeting from the African bush. Baba Bigee neglects his harvesting, following celebrations around, drinking way too much beer. His loving family takes away his beer pot and warns him of the dangers of drink, so Baba sobers up.
Nyarara iwe, Nyarara ucha zviona . . .
It’s okay, everything will work out Stop whining, you will see at the end And please don’t feel ashamed There are no problems too big or small for us to solve together
Mbakumba is noted for the jeketera, a polyrhythmic conversation between dancers and musicians. The story marks a time of rest and recovery after the harvest, when the community celebrates together. As Karangan philosophy says: “I am because we are”.
Choreographer Julia Tsitsi Chigamba is from a long line of Shona musicians, dancers, and storytellers who lived in poverty for decades under British rule—1800s to 1960s—protecting and carrying forward ancient Shona traditions. This performance is a poignant testimony to that lineage: Julia’s children dance with Chinyakare, having recently arrived from Zimbabwe where they performed with the Mhembero Dance Company and under the tutelage of ceremonial mbira master Tute Chigamba, Julia’s father.
Zimbabwean costumes evoke the earth: green is for crops, gold for minerals, black for peace, and red for energy. The women hold tswanda—baskets of seeds. The men’s clay pots (hari) carry ceremonial beer, ritually brewed, blessed by the matriarchs, shared in friendship.
The deep earthiness of Shona music “fills up” listeners and opens a space for the ancestors to join. The ngoma drum—a carved tree trunk and cow hide—carries the conversation with the dancers. Hosho (gourd shakers) and marimbas (introduced in Zimbabwe in 1960) play circular cross-rhythms.
Titles:Mhande, Hoso/Amabhiza Artist in Residence: Ronnie Daliyo Dancers:Duncan
Allard, Julia Tsitsi Chigamba, Ronnie Daliyo, Delisa Nealy, Marsha Treadwell Musicians/Vocalists:Duncan
Allard (drums), Julia Tsitsi Chigamba (hosho), Ronnie Daliyo (drums/hosho),
Russell Landers (drums), Hector Lugo (drums), Tom Melkonian (drums), Delisa
Nealy (hosho), Marsha Treadwell (hosho)
Chinyakare presents two dances
from the Shona and Ndebele:
Mhande is usually
danced during the first rains, to celebrate the cycle of planting and
harvesting and to invoke blessings for new endeavors. The women carry seeds in
tswanda (baskets); the men's skins and headdresses evoke an earlier time.
Hoso/Amabhiza celebrates the Ndebele
people's deliverance from British colonizers and their return to ancestral
lands and traditions. Cloths symbolize cleansing, dance movements characterize
colonialists on horseback, and the lyrics highlight the people's courage and
ingenuity: they hide prayers and invocations to their ancestors in simple
I don't like to have to dance stay outside with my
clothes goods. Don't dance stay outside.
Five drums—including the ngoma, a hollowed
tree trunk—beat cross rhythms and circular patterns against magavuleg rattles and hosho gourd shakers.
The powerful and earthy Zimbabwean music opens a space for ancestral spirits to
enter, and the dancers pause for sacred communication.