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Bliss in African Beat

Namibia’s Premier African contemporary dance company, First Rain Dance Theatre, will this Friday be once again capturing our imagination through dance. This time as they partner up with the FNCC’s Dancing Cocktail event. Making this a night never to be forgotten, award-winning choreographer Haymich Olivier and international dance sensation Tulimelila Shityuwete will not only be entertaining the audience through their uniquely choreographed pieces, but will also be sharing their mail-attachmentknowledge through an introduction to basic African Dance techniques.

99FM’s MYD Art sat down with Tulimelila Shityuwete to talk about what we can expect from the show and also to find out what’s been happening at First Rain Dance Theatre (FRDT), a year and a half after they opened their dance studio doors in the capital of Namibia.

Talking this event, Tuli notes “This one is not what people will expect. Everyone knows we can do African contemporary, so we’re going to do an Afro House evening. Which is basically the stuff you see in nightclubs interpreted into a dance.”

“Over the past couple of years we’ve been doing a lot of the African contemporary that we’ve become known for, but what people may not know is that FRDT is made up of street dancers. Because we train our own dancers people assume that everyone is a contemporary dancer but we have kwaito dancers; hip hop dancers; animators; b-boy dancers, krumpers and more.” Tuli laughs as she adds that, “actually, I think I am the only contemporary dancer in FRDT.” The compilation of styles adds to the strength of the dance studio as Tuli explains, “everything is connected. Hip hop is connected to African dance so intimately, while African social dance is connected to hip hop so intimately.”

cocktails_1Without giving too much away, what you can expect from the event is “a night of serious fun” says Tuli who adds, “when you dance with your whole being, something shifts. It’s the difference between having your arms out by your sides and actually engaging your muscles and reaching beyond your body.”

“Its cocktails, dancing and great music. Something a little different and unlike anything you’ve seen before. You’re going to see what we do in a normal class, then we’ll do a high energy choreography then after that we’ll go into one of our specialties, contact improvisation. This is a guided session where you improvise, it’s about exploring yourself and the space. Last time we did contact improvisation, more than half of the audience joined us, it was the best fun ever.”

Talking the growth of the studio, almost two years after they opened their doors, Tuli notes that, “It’s nice to have a space dedicated to dance because you can really build a dance community, build audiences and take dance to more people. It’s been fabulous reaching out to more Namibians.”

Excitedly she shares that the First Rain Dance Theatre will soon be moving to new premises at the Old Breweries or Warehouse Complex.

As they grow from strength to strength, nurturing a love of dance in Namibia as they do, Tuli notes that the only thing they don’t have in plentiful supply, are male dances. “In terms of the company we have more male dancers than female dancers which is fabulous, but in dance classes you often don’t find many men. Maybe because it’s not seen as socially acceptable for men to go to a dance class, even though it’s muscle building cardo which is the best kind of exercise.” She laughs as she adds, “Have you seen a male dancers body? If you look at male professional dancers, they are more ripped than football players.”

Whether you’ve going to learn more about African Dance, to try out a few moves in a safe and fun environment or simply to enjoy the physical perfection of the dancers as they defy gravity to the beat of the song, be sure to be at the FNCC this Friday the 14th October at 19h00 for sensational Dancing Cocktails.

For more information on Dancing Cocktails – African Dance, click here