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Tavaziva Dance’s 2009 Spring Tour including the world premiere of My Friend Robert

Politics and cutting-edge dance collide in the world premiere of the controversial My Friend Robert by award-winning Zimbabwean-born choreographer Bawren Tavaziva, Bawren’s provocative, highly emotive production draws upon his personal experiences and memories of growing up in the newly independent Zimbabwe and looks at how Robert Mugabe’s visionary dreams, empowerment, redistribution of resources and flag-waving on his rise to power in 1980 has led instead to megalomania, economic meltdown, corruption and violence. Resident in the UK since 1994, My Friend Robert is Bawren’s deeply personal comment on the challenges facing Africa today. “This is my most personal piece to date, and it was a project that I could not ignore,” says Bawren, artistic director of London-based Tavaziva Dance. “Choreographing it will mean that I won’t be able to return home for at least one year, it will just be too dangerous for me personally, but it’s a statement I needed to make at this time - I owe it to my country. Criticism of the Mugabe regime is just not tolerated and definitely frowned upon and news of My Friend Robert has already reached the media in Zimbabwe.” Bawren Tavaziva was born in a rural village near Masvingo in Zimbabwe in 1976.

At the age of four his parents decided their family of four boys and three girls needed to move to Harare, where his father found work in the city. Football, Michael Jackson, New Edition and Kung Fu movies viewed at the local community hall in the Harare suburb of Tafara provided his artistic inspiration. Bawren practised the dance styles, karate moves and football skills in the streets where the children of the neighbourhood gathered. As Bawren reached his teens he was drawn to a dance programme created by The National Ballet, targeting talented under-privileged youngsters. He was soon selected to join the City Youth Dance Group where the most talented received extra classes. Within two years Bawren was selected as an apprentice to work with Tumbuka Dance Company, where he remained for five years, touring extensively, visiting the African sub-continent, including South Africa, Botswana, Angola and the Ivory Coast, and Europe, including France, Germany, Switzerland and the UK.

In 1995 Bawren was awarded a scholarship to attend the Montpellier Choreographic Institute’s Summer Festival in France. In 1998 Bawren moved to the UK where he has worked with Sakoba Dance Theatre, JazzXchange, Carol Brown, Phoenix Dance and Union Dance Company. He formed Tavaziva Dance in 2004, following being nominated as a finalist for The Place Prize Award. Concluding with the 30-minute My Friend Robert, Heart of Darkness features four austerely contrasting pieces.

Tour Dates

29/30 Jan: Hounslow, Paul Robeson Theatre / Box Office: 0845 456 2840 / www.hounslow.info
4 Feb: Croydon Clocktower Box Office: 020 8253 1030 / www.croydonclocktower.org.uk
6 Feb: Plymouth, Barbican Theatre / Box Office: 01752 267 131 / www.barbicantheatre.co.uk
11 Feb: Showroom University, Chichester / Box Office: 01243 816 206 / www.chiuni.ac.uk
12 Feb: Derby Dance Centre / Box Office: 01332 970 911 / www.deda.uk.com
28 Feb: The Lindsey School, Cleethorpes /  Box Office: 0844 477 1756 /  www.tisart.co.uk
6 Mar: Town Hall Studios, Swindon / Box Office: 01793 601700 / www.swindondance.org.uk
12 Mar: Hawth Studio, Crawley / Box Office: 01293 553636
13 Mar: Patrick Centre, Birmingham / Box Office: 0844 338 5000 / www.dancexchange.org.uk
17 Mar: Carriage Works, Leeds / Box Office: 0113 224 3801 / www.carriageworkstheatre.org.uk
18 Mar: Drill Hall, Lincoln / Box Office: 01522 873894 / www.lincolndrillhall.com
19 Mar: Number 8, Pershore / Box Office: 01386 555488 / www.number8.org
31 Mar/1 Apr: The Place, Robin Howard Theatre, London / Box Office: 020 7121 1100 / www.theplace.org.uk

Related Links

www.tavazivadance.com

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