Made by Kuda (MADE IN ZWE), a gift to Plot Mhako and the earGROUND vision.

The Cultural Significance and Evolution of Dance in Zimbabwe

Dancing holds immense entertainment value for fans during musical performances in Zimbabwe, and it has become a prevalent practice for Zimbabwean bands to integrate dance groups into their shows. However, dances in Zimbabwe extend beyond mere entertainment and transcend into the realm of traditional rituals and ceremonies.

by Timothy Kuhamba

Many dances are deeply rooted in the cultural fabric of the nation, serving as integral components of rites of passage, initiation ceremonies, weddings, harvest celebrations, and spiritual practices. In these contexts, dances acquire a sacred and ceremonial significance, enriching the cultural tapestry of Zimbabwe and connecting communities to their ancestral heritage.

Zimbabwe boasts a rich array of dances, including Jerusarema, Mbende/Isitshikitsha, Muchongoyo, Dinhe, and Borrowdale Clarks, to name just a few. These dances originate from different genres but share a common goal of entertaining fans, each with its own cultural significance and distinctive style. Some notable festivals in Zimbabwe that promoted dance include the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), Jibilika Dance Festival, Mafuwe International Festival of Dance, Intwasa Arts Festival, and the Dance Trust of Zimbabwe Festival. These festivals highlighted the vibrant arts scene in Zimbabwe, providing opportunities for dancers from different genres and backgrounds to come together, celebrate their craft, and contribute to the rich cultural landscape of the country.

The contemporary dance space has been active in Zimbabwe for many years with groups such as Tumbuka Dance Company becoming a global phenomenon. The Dance Trust of Zimbabwe through the then Dance Foundation Course helped mentor and train a lot of dancers. Now Afrikera Trust has been doing the most in keeping professional dance alive in Zimbabwe.

There was a notable peak in the past when female dance groups like Mambokadzi and Girls La Musica brought vibrant energy to the stage. Those were the days of hits like “Wamatuka” by Gift Amuli and “Idya Banana” by Joseph Garakara. Dance groups have been a part of Zimbabwean music for a long time, as evidenced by iconic videos such as “Gore Renzara” by Green Arrows, “Katarina” in Mukadota’s band, and “Manyowa” in John Chibadura performances. Dancers like John Cole and Zorro have done well to build careers from dance.

However a lot of great dance groups over the years failed to survive. What factors contributed to the decline of women’s dance groups which once provided excellent entertainment to Zimbabweans?

Even within the Zimdancehall and Urban Grooves genres, we can witness captivating performances. For instance, when artists like Ex Q take the stage, they often accompany their performances with three talented, dreadlocked dancers. These dancers add an extra layer of intrigue and excitement to the overall presentation, making the performances even more engaging and memorable.

At a certain period, Zimdancehall embraced a dance known as the “Dance of Clacks,” where numerous youths from the ghetto would showcase their moves while carrying small bags on their backs. This unique dance style became popular among the youth, adding a distinctive element to the Zimdancehall culture. The Borrowdale dance, commonly associated with Sungura music, holds great popularity among Sungura enthusiasts.

Allow me to highlight a few instances where dancers truly excelled in their performances. One notable example was the 2005 Gala event in Kwekwe, where Franco Slomo Dhaka, with his impeccable dance moves, captivated the audience and left a lasting impression. Even today, many people vividly recall the memorable moments of Franco Slomo’s dance routine to the song. Just mentioning the name evokes images of his energetic performance, showcasing his remarkable talent and skill. Franco Slomo truly excelled and demonstrated a deep understanding of his role during that time. Similarly, maJuice has been making remarkable strides in the Orchestra Mberikwazvo ever since he won the Nama dancing award in 2020. Their talent, dedication, and ability to connect with the audience have propelled them to great success in their respective fields.

A memorable show that stands out is the Independence Gala in 2007 Tongai Moyo delivered a stellar performance during this event, and the synchronization of the dancers was impeccable. Shiga Shiga truly understood the assignment and effortlessly elevated the performance. One particularly memorable moment from the show was when he chanted the lyrics “Get busy Mapurisa,” which resonated with the fans and showcased their immense enjoyment of the music.

See Also

I came across a heartwarming article Dreams amplified as out-of-school dancing youths from Chitungwiza on EarGround Africa about a dance group from my hometown, Chitungwiza. According to the article, these dancers were using their talent to earn money and pay for their education. This is truly commendable, especially considering the prevalence of drug use among youths. Engaging in dance helps keep them away from such harmful activities.  

Beverly Sibanda is one of the most popular dancers in the country”

Youtube links

majuice award

gore renzara

Made by Kuda (MADE IN ZWE)
A gift to Plot Mhako and the earGROUND vision.
Truly, for the culture.

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