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London Dance Production Laments Zimbabwe Situation


Some modern dance is associated with political expression, and this is the case of a production in London about Zimbabwe that will tour Britain later this year.

A Zimbabwean choreographer has created a ballet about Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his rule over the country.

The dance, title My Friend, Robert, is overtly critical of Mr. Mugabe. The ballet is a mix of ballet, contemporary and African dance styles.

It's a lament about poverty, disease and other dire conditions endured by the people of Zimbabwe. The piece lays the blame squarely on the country's president Robert Mugabe.

Bawren Tavaziva has spent the past 10 years in Britain. He says the suffering of his countrymen moved him to create this political piece. "I just want to share the reality of life back home, first hand, as a Zimbabwean,” he said, "I just want them to feel that, I just want them to see it, as performed."

Everton Wood is a British dancer who plays the lead role. During a part of the piece, he wears a Mugabe mask, so the audience understands who he's portraying.

Wood says he's been studying the leader to better portray him. "He's very sort of regimented in the way he communicates, whether it be verbally or physically so you only get him in poses that are very sort of.... [he demonstrates] like this. "

At the end of the ballet, the Mugabe character is beaten with bricks. Tavaziva says he knows this could be dangerous for himself and the dancers, should they decide to visit Zimbabwe.

Tavaziva explained, "Anything you say anywhere in the world, like if they get hold of the information that you were talking about, like Mugabe-being thrown the bricks at. I wouldn't go home, I wouldn't take the risk."

Tavaziva says he hopes his creation will remind British audiences that things are desperate in Zimbabwe and will also spark outrage at the situation there.


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