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Using up empty spaces keeps them on their toes


Actually, he had got into the traditional type of this art-form back in 2004. However, although he enjoyed every single minute of it, there was not much happening that he could write home about.  

Prior to this time when he was looking for a break in the traditional dancing arena, he did manage to make a small mark on the local popular music scene, as part of a group called the Green Band. This musical experience was from 2003, under the Dogodogo Centre here in the City Centre.

His part was to play guitar or keyboards and sing. They had some level of attainment and it was here that he tasted success for the first time.   The group had received some recognition, with their songs being played on the radio now and then.

In 2004 they even managed to record an album but as the members got older and each became more independently firm on their own feet, the team spirit became more difficult to maintain, until they each went their own way. In the case of Fungafunga, he was getting more into dancing.      

Now and then something would happen to keep him pushing for better and in 2008 he joined-up with three other contemporary dancers: Mzome Mohamed, Twaba Mohamed and Seki Hamadi, to form the group that is now known as “Empty Space”. The name actually comes from a piece they perform, which brought them directly underneath local and international spotlights, because this is what it is called.  

That particular production – Empty Space - is built on the situation that prevails when there is nothing inside something; whether it’s a bottle or one’s stomach. The ‘Star’ had the pleasure of being part of the audience when this was performed at the grand opening of the state-of-the-art theatre at the National Museum and House of Culture last September.  

They did create a stir amongst the audience with this creation, which since then has opened a number of doors for them.. During a conversation with Fungafunga on Friday he explained further what actually happened, as a direct result of that performance late last year.   

“The production called Empty Space is all about love, peace, climate change and ethics. It was rated as the best production in the Visa 2 Dance festival here in Dar es Salaam last year,” he added with visible understandable look of satisfaction.  He revealed that during the break on the night, the group had received three invitations to perform in Europe, as a direct result of their performance.

That is how they ended-up spending two weeks in Geneva, Switzerland last December, where they had to perform the piece in front of an audience of 6,000 persons. This stunned Fungafunga, who had never stood in front of so many people in one place at one time before.  

“Actually I was shocked to see so many people and thought I couldn’t perform but then I gave out myself and just let go and got into it. After-all, we had come there to perform so the best thing to do was just that. I had to ignore the audience and get into my act.

The result was amazing, just to see that all of the people appreciated it,” he admitted.  He also told the ‘Star’ that the piece was the work of Aida Colmanero, a Spanish choreographer. While in the country for the Visa 2 Dance festival, she had chosen these four dancers, who had to audition together with other local artists, to perform this creation of hers. She had also provided recorded music, which went with it.  

However, they dropped this and used three local musicians, who provide live music during their performances instead. This way all seven members are involved from beginning to end. Apart from presenting this piece at the Visa 2 Dance festival last year and in Switzerland, they have also had the opportunity to take it to the Barazani within the local Alliance Française complex on the 15 of last month, to the joy of the audience.   

In Switzerland they also had other opportunities to increase their artistic knowledge. After rehearsals in the mornings their hosts took them to various places, like dance schools, museums and other attractions. This was the first time for the group to visit Europe but Fungafunga’s sixth. He had gone four times because of dance and twice on other issues related to local youths.  

They now represent another one in the number of young groups coming into the contemporary dance area with a bang. Yet there are still those who say local youth can only spend time on the corner -- “kijiweni”. When it’s time to rehearse they can be found by the sea front. This way he says “the beach is not an empty space”. 

THE first day I came into close proximity ...


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