Dance explosion in Dar es Salaam

Dancers in action - Photo: The Embassy
MuDa dancers in action

The Norwegian Embassy in Tanzania was delighted to take part in a three days dance feast, packed with explosive and entertaining dance performances by young creative talents. The annual Time2Dance Festival was this year held 21-23 Sept at Alliance Francaise and Russian Culture Centre in Dar es Salaam. This year`s edition marks 11 years of the international contemporary dance festival, and the audience witnessed outstanding performances from MUDA Africa Dance School and notable guest dancers from Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar, Germany, Norway and Italy.

The dancers captivated the audience with their intense and artistically exploration of themes ranging from gender equality to climate change. The 21st Century performance challenged traditional gender roles, where strong female characters took the lead, lifting their male counterparts with ease, whereas the men tiptoed elegantly in high heels. The act, Moving ID, criticized the way many migrants are treated, using a powerful combination of poem and dance, leaving the audience in awe.

MuDa Africa

The Norwegian Embassy is a proud supporter of MuDa Africa, a non-profit organization that gives professional training within the creative sector for young Tanzanians. MuDa Africa was founded in 2012 and offers a three-year dance education program, where the students get the chance to develop their dance performance skills and self-management skills. This way, MuDa prepares the students for employment and economic independence. Since the school started, 80 percent of the students have successfully found employment in the creative sector. The Embassy got the chance to meet two of the former students, who happily shared with us their thoughts about how MuDa Africa has made an impact on their lives.

From dance student to a fully-fledged entrepreneur

Alawi “Tadhi” Saidi Alawi is a graduate from MuDa class of 2016, who started dancing in 2008 after being inspired by a Michael Jackson video that his brother gave him. Ever since, he has been passionately engaged in the art of dancing and he aims to become one of East-Africa’s greatest choreographers.

Since graduating at MuDa, Tadhi has established his own dance company, Nantea, where he teaches contemporary dance and yoga. So far, the young entrepreneur has successfully employed five teachers and offers classes three days a week. In its short existence, the dance company has toured Madagascar, Kenya, Senegal and Uganda, where they have performed and taken part in artistic exchanges with fellow contemporary dancers.

The entrepreneur quotes MuDa as the reason for his great achievements and the fact that he is financially secure. “Thanks to MuDa, I can travel the world, I own a company and I am able to make a living and sustain myself. I am no longer dependent on my family and I am able to pay my rent. I feel free and happy”.

Tadhi’s dream for the company is to be renowned for its artistic excellence, and to open a dance academy and a yoga center in Dar es Salaam. 

From the streets of Dar es Salaam to a teacher and manager

Samwel Japhet Silas is also a graduate of the class of 2016. He grew up in Mwanza by Lake Victoria. At the age of seven, he left home and started a life on the streets. After two years of moving between different cities, he arrived to Dar es Salaam at the age of nine.  At this time, he had no idea that dance would be his future work and passion. However, after three years of practicing dance at Makini center for street children, he finally passed the audition at MuDa Africa in 2013.

I never thought I would become a dancer, and I certainly did not know that you could earn money by dancing. It was not until I discovered dancing and started to perform at MuDa that I realized that this is what I want to do. I want to become a professional dancer and choreographer”.

Today, in addition to being a performing artist and a dance teacher, Samwel is administrating Nantea and assisting with administrative tasks at MuDa. He is also teaching life skills at MuDa to prepare the students for employment. Like Tadhi, Samwel also wants to inspire dancers and spread dance in Tanzania and internationally. “I want to inspire other dancers. I want to spread dance, and reach as many people as possible, I want to travel and show Tanzanian dance to other people”.

In the future, Samwel wants to continue to teach young dancers, and his hope is that he can inspire street children to never give up and to always aim to achieve their dreams.

This year’s Time2Dance festival was indeed a success, with MuDa students and the guest artists performing to a fully packed venue. The Embassy was delighted to see what a positive impact MuDa Africa has had on its student, successfully preparing them for a career in the dance industry. We are already looking forward to next years’ festival.